The Mandala Center

Mandala Center Walk Meditations

A special invite...

In this time of social distancing we invite you to virtually walk The Mandala Walk at the Mandala Center. The Mandala Walk is not just a hiking trail. It is a journey for you to take and reflect on your own life journey. It is a way to renew your mind, spirit and body. It is an opportunity for you to share our special, spirit filled place. Come, spend time with us on The Mandala Walk.

Meditations Archive...Click Here

A Reflection...On the Lord's Prayer

I think it is important that we stop and consider the words we speak, especially those that have become so familiar to us, like the Lord’s prayer. I am not sure of the origin of this but I think it can be a great meditation.

I cannot say … “OUR”
If my religion has no room for other people and their needs.

I cannot say … “FATHER”
If I do not demonstrate this relationship in my life.

I cannot say … “WHO ART IN HEAVEN”
If all my interests and pursuits are earthly things.

I cannot say … “HALLOWED BE THY NAME”
If I who am called by God’s name, am not holy.

I cannot say … “THY KINGDOM COME”
If I am unwilling to give up my sovereignty and accept the reign of God.

I cannot say … “THY WILL BE DONE”
If I am unwilling or resentful of having God in my life.

I cannot say … “ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN”
Unless I am truly ready to give myself to God’s service here and now.

Without expending honest effort for it or by ignoring the needs of my brothers and sisters.

If I continue to harbor a grudge against anyone.

If I deliberately choose to remain in a situation where I am likely to be tempted.

I cannot say … “DELIVER US FROM EVIL”
If I am not prepared to fight in the spiritual realm with the weapon of prayer.

If I do not give disciplined obedience, if I fear what neighbors and friends may say or do, if I seek my own glory first.

I cannot say … “AMEN”
Unless I can honestly say also, “Cost what it may, this is my prayer!

Jesus said, “Pray like this…”

A Reflection...

As I was sorting through some old files I came across this quote. I was reminded that no matter what my age or what my current circumstances are, it is important to, as Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

A wise, old middle eastern mystic said this about himself.

“I was a revolutionary when I was young and all my prayer to God was: ‘Lord, give me the energy to change the world.’

As I approached middle age and realized that my life was half-gone without my changing a single soul, I changed my prayer to: ‘Lord, give me the grace to change all those who come into contact with me. Just my family and friends and I shall be satisfied.’

Now that I am an old man and my days are numbered, I have begun to see how foolish I have been. My one prayer now is: “Lord, give me the grace to change myself.”

If I had prayed this right from the start, I would not have wasted my life.”

The Song of the Bird – Anthony J. de Mello, S.J.

Love and Compassion will change the world. May we each begin to focus on changing ourselves into being that loving and compassionate person.

A Reflection...Wisdom

Numerous times in the past our reflection has been on Wisdom. It seems to be an important quality of life that is much needed.

Since ancient times, men and women have been on a personal quest for wisdom. It is hard to put into words exactly what we are seeking, but it has to do with discovering the meaning and purpose of life in general and specifically what is happening in and around us.

According to Abraham Ibn Ezra, "wisdom is to the soul as food is to the body."

The seeds of wisdom are found in everything that life brings our way from good to bad experiences, from failures and successes, and from all our relationships. Wisdom is one of life's grandest gifts, but we must keep our eyes open and our hearts and minds responsive to her comings.

In the book of Sirach, a portion of the Christian canon also know as Ecclesiasticus, a passage reads: “Happy is the person who meditates on Sophia (Wisdom), who reflects in one’s heart on Sophia’s ways and ponders her secrets, pursuing her like a hunter, and lying in wait on her paths.”

I think it is a beautiful image of how each of us can best take advantage of this time of uncertainty.

Sister Joyce Rupp writes: “We need to look for Sophia. By her very nature she is relational, present in the world, interacting among people and ordinary human lives. By desiring to know her, by opening our minds and hearts, her radiance will permeate our lives.”

I hope that you will take the time to look for, no, pursue, Wisdom. Open your eyes and hearts and minds to her presence in your prayers, meditations, and the world and people around you. You will be blest and be a blessing to others.

A Reflection...The Great Spirit Prayer

This prayer was translated by Chief Yellow Lark, a Chief of the Lakota Sioux, and known as a man of peace. In the midst of great suffering and the death of his people and way of life it is said what he desired most was for all, Native Americans and the white man, to live together in peace.

A desire and hope for all of us today. Here is the prayer:

Oh, Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the wind,
whose breath gives life to all the world.
Hear me; I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty, and make my eyes ever
behold the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have made
and my ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand the
things you have taught my people.
Help me to remain calm and strong in the face
of all that comes towards me.
Let me learn the lessons you have
hidden in every leaf and rock.
Help me seek pure thoughts and act with
the intention of helping others.
Help me find compassion without
empathy overwhelming me.
I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother,
but to fight my greatest enemy, Myself.
Make me always ready to come to you
with clean hands and straight eyes.
So when life fades, as the fading sunset,
my spirit may come to you without shame.

A Reflection...The Path Ahead

Even when our journey lies along an uncertain path let us know that in walking that path/ living our life, we can discover the truth about love, forgiveness, judging, and living.

I thought this Celtic Blessing might be appropriate for all of us:

A Celtic Blessing for the Path Ahead
by Iain Tweedale

May the path show you the truth
The truth about love and the cost of loving all
May the path show you the truth about forgiveness
For your sake, not just the sake of the forgiven
May the path show you the truth about judging
That we are in no position to judge
May the path show you the truth about trust
That we do not have to be in control
May the path show you the truth about life
That the journey is itself the destination.

A Reflection...On Meditating, Sort Of

I think for many of us meditating is a mystery. So, I was recently intrigued with a post by Parker Palmer on FaceBook about how when he was caught napping in the library, he would claim he was just meditating. I think many of us can relate to that kind of relationship with meditation. Palmer went on to describe how he took solace in the poem by Mary Oliver. Maybe it will be of help to you as well.

On Meditating, Sort Of

Meditation, so I’ve heard, is best accomplished
if you entertain a certain strict posture.
Frankly, I prefer just to lounge under a tree.
So why should I think I could ever be successful?

Some days I fall asleep, or land in that
even better place — half asleep — where the world,
spring, summer, autumn, winter —
flies through my mind in its
hardy ascent and its uncompromising descent.

So I just lie like that, while distance and time
reveal their true attitudes: they never
heard of me, and never will, or ever need to.

Of course I wake up finally
thinking, how wonderful to be who I am,
made out of earth and water,
my own thoughts, my own fingerprints —
all that glorious, temporary stuff.

Meditating is our attempt at allowing ourselves to focus on our inner self. Who knew napping could be a great way to do that?

Humor and laughter will see us through.

A Reflection...Seeing in the Dark

One of the lessons we try to teach everyone coming to The Mandala Center is that to truly see the night sky you must let your eyes adjust to the darkness. When you finally do, your night vision kicks in and you realize that you really can see without the artificial light. The longer you keep your eyes open the more you can see and realize what the “darkness” was hiding.

I think it is a good lesson for life also. The poem “Sweet Darkness” by David Whyte is for me full of reminders to embrace the darkness. Maybe some of it will speak to you.

Sweet Darkness

When your eyes are tired the world is tired also.
When your vision has gone, no part of the world can find you.
Time to go into the dark where the night has eyes to recognize its own.
There you can be sure you are not beyond love.
The dark will be your home tonight.
The night will give you a horizon further than you can see.
You must learn one thing. The world was made to be free in.
Give up all the other worlds except the one to which you belong.
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet confinement of your aloneness to learn anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you.

There can be as much aliveness in the dark as in the light, maybe during this time of darkness you can pause, let your eyes adjust and find your aliveness.

A Reflection...God's Promise

A couple of weeks ago the Gospel for that Sunday was from Matthew. Matthew’s Gospel ends with the promise, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mt. 28:20)

The prelude for the service from the National Cathedral was, The Promise by Andraé Crouch (1942-2015) and Luther Hanes.

Even without the music the words carry a powerful reminder for us.

I’ll never leave you, never forsake you; No matter what you’re going through,
I’ve got good news for you; I’ll be with you always.
And when sorrow comes, And there’s no other place to run, Just look to me and I’ll be there;
Just a whisper of a prayer— I’ll be with you always.
I’ll never leave you, never forsake you; No matter what you’re going through,
I’ve got good news for you; I’ll be with you always.
In stormy weather, it is my pleasure. I want to take care of all your needs.
Trust me and you’ll see I’ll be with you always.
And when trouble comes, And there’s no other place to run,
Just look to me and I’ll be there; Just a whisper of a prayer —
I’ll be with you always.
Never, never, never. I’ll be with you! No matter who you are, No matter what you need,
No matter what you’re going through, I’ve got good news for you;
I’ll be with you always.

In this time of deep hurt and pain for ourselves, for our families and friends, for the strangers in our life, and all the people of the world I believe we are called to remember our values, our belief in love, justice, and compassion. And this promise from God, “I am with you always…day after day, after day, right up to the end of the age.”

A Reflection...Walk A Mile in His Moccasins

We have all heard the quote and some version of it exists in many cultures. While it certainly stands on its own as great instruction for how to live a better life, I recently discovered a poem written by Mary T. Lathrap in 1895. It carries the sense of compassion, kindness, empathy and understanding that is still important for us today. Its title is:

“Judge Softly”

“Pray, don’t find fault with the man that limps,
Or stumbles along the road.
Unless you have worn the moccasins he wears,
Or stumbled beneath the same load.

There may be tears in his soles that hurt
Though hidden away from view.
The burden he bears placed on your back
May cause you to stumble and fall, too.

Don’t sneer at the man who is down today
Unless you have felt the same blow
That caused his fall or felt the shame
That only the fallen know.

You may be strong, but still the blows
That were his, unknown to you in the same way,
May cause you to stagger and fall, too.

Don’t be too harsh with the man that sins.
Or pelt him with words, or stone, or disdain.
Unless you are sure you have no sins of your own,
And it’s only wisdom and love that your heart contains.

For you know if the tempter’s voice
Should whisper as soft to you,
As it did to him when he went astray,
It might cause you to falter, too.

Just walk a mile in his moccasins
Before you abuse, criticize and accuse.
If just for one hour, you could find a way
To see through his eyes, instead of your own muse.

I believe you’d be surprised to see
That you’ve been blind and narrow-minded, even unkind.
There are people on reservations and in the ghettos
Who have so little hope, and too much worry on their minds.

Brother, there but for the grace of God go you and I.
Just for a moment, slip into his mind and traditions
And see the world through his spirit and eyes
Before you cast a stone or falsely judge his conditions.

Remember to walk a mile in his moccasins
And remember the lessons of humanity taught to you by your elders.
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave
In other people’s lives, our kindnesses and generosity.

Take the time to walk a mile in his moccasins.”

A Reflection...June 3, 2020

Remember Who You Are

In this time of deep hurt and pain for ourselves, for our families and friends, for the strangers in our life, and all the people of the world I believe we are called to remember our values, our belief in love, justice, and compassion.

The Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston, retired Bishop of the Episcopal Church and Native American Elder has said...
"Now is the moment for which a lifetime of faith has prepared you. All of those years of prayer and study, all of the worship services, all of the time devoted to a community of faith: it all comes down to this, this sorrowful moment when life seems chaotic and the anarchy of fear haunts the thin borders of reason. Your faith has prepared you for this. It has given you the tools you need to respond: to proclaim justice while standing for peace. Long ago the Spirit called you to commit your life to faith. Now you know why. You are a source of strength for those who have lost hope. You are a voice of calm in the midst of chaos. You are a steady light in days of darkness. The time has come to be what you believe."

Actions speak louder than words. Actions show your real attitudes, what you genuinely believe. They are the litmus test for living the life God is calling you to live, for who God is calling you to be.

May the familiar words of this prayer attributed to St. Francis become your prayer every day;

Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

A Reflection...May 27, 2020

Grief and Love – A practice to change your world

The Rev. Kristin Kaulbach Miles began her sermon this past Sunday at Trinity Church Wall Street with a quote from the ecologist, writer and sage, Terry Tempest Williams. I think it is a beautiful image of how we can address the opportunity of emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic into a new way of being.

Williams quote says, “We need to ask two questions, Where is our grief? And Where is our love?”

The image is that we hold grief in one hand and love in the other. Miles goes on to say, “That as we bring these two hands together in prayer our world can change…And then to change the world, the hands go from closed together to opening and extended. How we do that is the work of a lifetime. It requires that we orient ourselves again and again as things change.”

I believe that it is a very positive practice that can guide our life and our day.

Start each day, or even take a moment or two during your day, to place all the negative emotional reactions you are feeling to the changes around you, your sense of grief and loss, in one hand. In the other hand, place all the love you have for God, yourself, and the others around you. Then bring your hands together in prayer. Offer all that is in both to God. Be still and listen.

Then as you end your prayer, saying your Amen, your So Be It, extend your hands, opening yourself to embrace the world around you. Know that your grief and love are moving you and the world around you into a new way of being.

A Reflection...May 20, 2020

A Story

The Star Thrower – Loren Eiseley

A man was walking on the beach one day and noticed a boy who was reaching down, picking up a starfish and throwing it in the ocean. As he approached, he called out, “Hello! What are you doing?” The boy looked up and said, “I’m throwing starfish into the ocean”. “Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the man. “The tide stranded them. If I don’t throw them in the water before the sun comes up, they’ll die” came the answer. “Surely you realize that there are miles of beach, and thousands of starfish. You’ll never throw them all back, there are too many. You can’t possibly make a difference.” The boy listened politely, then picked up another starfish. As he threw it back into the sea, he said, “It made a difference for that one.”

There are star throwers all around us. The people who are making a difference. We hear a lot about the obvious ones and sometimes even the lesser known. And that is good.

But it is important to remember that we have all been gifted with the ability to make a difference. During this time of change, the challenge for you and me is to become more aware of that gift within us. Together, one at a time, we can and will make a difference, one starfish at a time.

Pay attention to the starfish on your beach. Become a star thrower!

A Reflection...May 13, 2020

Love and Fire

“Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides, and gravity, we shall begin to harness the energies of Love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, humanity will have discovered Fire.” ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Anne Hillman writing about Teilhard’s statement in her book “Awakening the Energies of Love: Discovering Fire for the Second Time” says, “An entirely new Intelligence has been blinking in and out of human existence for thousands of years. This astonishing gift has emerged from the immense creativity of the universe and is now becoming stabilized in increasing numbers of people the world over. I call it the emergent consciousness of Love. Such a consciousness is not a different way of thinking; it is a radically different orientation–to everything. Our work is to cooperate with it.”

To say that this is an unusual time in our lives is an understatement. For some it has been even more exacerbated with the loss of life - literally, economically, and socially.

As our time of pandemic fear, physical isolation and economic hardship come to a change, maybe it is time, as we move into the new normal, to really discover in our own lives the meaning of Love.

Jesus when asked, “Which command in God’s Law is the most important?” said, “Love the Lord your God with all your passion, and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: “Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.” (Matthew 22: 34 – 40, The Message, Eugene Peterson, The Bible in Contemporary Language)

Maybe it is time to cooperate with this kind of love; a love that honors all persons, all spiritual paths, and all of life. The kind of love, compassion, and truth that allows us to discover what Teilhard meant when he said, “for the second time in the history of the world, humanity will have discovered Fire.”

Preparing for this new “normal” is not about adding a bunch of spiritual practices to your life. It is about intentionally using your time in a way that is fruitful and encourages spiritual, emotional, and mental growth for yourself and the others in your life. It is about loving, God, your neighbor and all the world.

A Reflection...May 6, 2020

This past Sunday I attended worship services at The Washington National Cathedral. And even though it was on YouTube I found it very meaningful. The preacher was Mariann Budde, the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.

She began her sermon with this prayer from Laura Jean Truman:

Keep my anger from becoming meanness.
Keep my sorrow from collapsing into self-pity.
Keep my heart soft enough to keep breaking.
Keep my anger turned towards justice, not cruelty.
Remind me that all of this, every bit of it, is for love.
Keep me fiercely kind.

In this time of uncertainty and frustration it is easy to let our negative thoughts and emotions overtake us. It is important to remember that as we move toward the new normal, it is not just about me. It is about what is good and right for all of us. It is about love. It is about loving our neighbor as ourselves.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Freedom is not the right to live as we please, but the right to find how we ought to live in order to fulfill our potential.”

Nelson Mandela said, “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

It is the season of Easter and Hope abounds! Let us discover our potential to live for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.

Keep my anger from becoming meanness.
Keep my sorrow from collapsing into self-pity.
Keep my heart soft enough to keep breaking.
Keep my anger turned towards justice, not cruelty.
Remind me that all of this, every bit of it, is for love.
Keep me fiercely kind.

A Reflection...April 29, 2020

“Like it or not, we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also the most creative of any time in the history of mankind. And everyone here will ultimately be judged - will ultimately judge himself - on the effort he has contributed to building a new world society and the extent to which his ideals and goals have shaped that effort."

Those words were given by Robert F. Kennedy as part of his Day of Affirmation Address, at the University of Capetown, Capetown, South Africa, on June 6, 1966.” The same day I graduated from high school – 6/6/66. I don’t remember the first time I heard them but they have continually rung true for me.

Maybe now more than ever, we can affirm that we find ourselves in “interesting times.” And the call then and now is to contribute to building the new world society based on our ideals.

Your ideals are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work. They determine your priorities, and, deep down, they are probably the measures you use to tell if your life is turning out the way you want it to.

Albert Einstein said, “Everybody has certain ideals which determine the direction of his endeavors and his judgments. In this sense I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves — such an ethical basis I call more proper for a herd of swine. The ideals which have lighted me on my way and time after time given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.”

During this time of physical distancing due to Covid-19 It is the perfect time to take the time to ask ourselves, “What are my highest ideals? What are those values that I want to help shape me and the new normal of life? Write them down…post them on your mirror…vow to let them transform your life.

For me they are Truth, Love and Adventure.

It is the season of Easter and Hope abounds!

A Reflection...April 22, 2020

Today we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and its intention to raise awareness about a wide range of environmental issues and problems and to inspire people to take personal action to address them.

This Earth Day is like none ever before. I think that perhaps in this time of pandemic, physical separation, loss of jobs and income that we should take a moment or two to remember the words of Albert Einstein - “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

Today, Earth Day and every other day, is a great day to just focus our action on the wonder of the world around us, with all its good and bad. “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

In our desire to return to normal, let us use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth returning to, both for us personally and the world around us.

Recently I participated in an online worship service which ended with the song “What A Wonderful World.” Being performed by great jazz musicians made it even more meaningful for me. It is important to remember it IS a wonderful world.

Having brought it up how could we leave without hearing from Louis here to listen to What a Wonderful World.

It is the season of Easter and Hope abounds!

A Reflection...April 15, 2020

We attended Easter services at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. And even though it was virtual it was still moving. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was the preacher. My big take away was the line, “It may not look like Easter. It may not smell like Easter. It may not even feel like Easter. But it is Easter anyway.”

We have just begun the 50 days of Easter. And the reality was and is that after Easter Day life was never normal again. Not for the disciples, the others around them, nor those who followed later. As we move through this time of pandemic it is not nor will it be normal for us. There is a great story going around called..,


The four candles burn slowly. The ambiance was so soft you could hear them talking.

The first one said, “I am Peace! however nobody can keep me lit. I believe, I will go out.”

It’s flame rapidly diminishes and goes out completely.

The second one says, “I am Faith! Most of all, I am no longer indispensable, so it doesn’t make any sense that I stay lit any longer.”

When it finished talking, a breeze softly blew on it putting it out.

Sadly, the third candle spoke in its turn: “I am love! I haven’t got the strength to stay lit. People put me aside and don’t understand my importance. They even forget to love those who are nearest to them.”

And waiting no longer it goes out.

Suddenly… A child enters the room and sees three candles not burning.

“Why are you not burning? You are supposed to stay lit till the end.”

Saying this, the child begins to cry.

Then the fourth candle said: “Don’t be afraid, while I am still burning we can re-light the other candles, I am Hope!”

With shining eyes, the child took the candle of hope and lit the other candles.

I think this is the message of Easter; the flame of hope has not gone out. It is our job to relight Peace, Faith, and Love in our hearts and all those around us!

A Reflection...

I was first introduced to this piece by my friend and musician Fran McKendree a number of years ago and it has stuck with me. It seems appropriate to share it today in the midst of these troubling times. It is taken from the book Warriors of the Heart by Danaan Parry.

The Parable of the Trapeze
Turning the Fear of Transformation into the Transformation of Fear

Sometimes I feel that my life is a series of trapeze swings. I'm either hanging on to a trapeze bar swinging along or, for a few moments in my life, I'm hurtling across space in between trapeze bars.

Most of the time, I spend my life hanging on for dear life to my trapeze-bar-of-the-moment. It carries me along at a certain steady rate of swing and I have the feeling that I'm in control of my life. I know most of the right questions and even some of the answers.

But every once in a while, as I'm merrily (or even not-so-merrily) swinging along, I look out ahead of me into the distance and what do I see? I see another trapeze bar swinging toward me. It's empty and I know, in that place in me that knows, that this new trapeze bar has my name on it. It is my next step, my growth, my aliveness coming to get me. In my heart of hearts, I know that, for me to grow, I must release my grip on this present, well-known bar and move to the new one.

Each time it happens to me I hope (no, I pray) that I won't have to let go of my old bar completely before I grab the new one. But in my knowing place, I know that I must totally release my grasp on my old bar and, for some moment in time, I must hurtle across space before I can grab onto the new bar.

Each time, I am filled with terror. It doesn't matter that in all my previous hurtles across the void of unknowing I have always made it. I am each time afraid that I will miss, that I will be crushed on unseen rocks in the bottomless chasm between bars. I do it anyway. Perhaps this is the essence of what the mystics call the faith experience. No guarantees, no net, no insurance policy, but you do it anyway because somehow to keep hanging on to that old bar is no longer on the list of alternatives. So, for an eternity that can last a microsecond or a thousand lifetimes, I soar across the dark void of "the past is gone, the future is not yet here.

It's called "transition." I have come to believe that this transition is the only place that real change occurs. I mean real change, not the pseudo-change that only lasts until the next time my old buttons get punched.

I have noticed that, in our culture, this transition zone is looked upon as a "no-thing," a no-place between places. Sure, the old trapeze bar was real, and that new one coming toward me, I hope that's real, too. But the void in between? Is that just a scary, confusing, disorienting nowhere that must be gotten through as fast and as unconsciously as possible?

NO! What a wasted opportunity that would be. I have a sneaking suspicion that the transition zone is the only real thing and the bars are illusions we dream up to avoid the void where the real change, the real growth, occurs for us. Whether or not my hunch is true, it remains that the transition zones in our lives are incredibly rich places. They should be honored, even savored. Yes, with all the pain and fear and feelings of being out of control that can (but not necessarily) accompany transitions, they are still the most alive, most growth-filled, passionate, expansive moments in our lives.

So, transformation of fear may have nothing to do with making fear go away, but rather with giving ourselves permission to "hang out" in the transition between trapeze bars. Transforming our need to grab that new bar, any bar, is allowing ourselves to dwell in the only place where change really happens. It can be terrifying. It can also be enlightening in the true sense of the word. Hurtling through the void, we just may learn how to fly.

A Reflection...

As many of you already know, in my role with Rotary and working with Growing Great Kids, we have been promoting Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. It is the program for young people age 0 to 5 to receive a book once a month. I have been reflecting on Dolly’s favorite saying, “We cannot direct the winds, but we can adjust our sails.”

Consider for a minute how this might relate to our present time of social distancing and being forced to live differently. The “winds” here represent those external influences, what life throws at you. Maybe you are feeling isolated and alone. Maybe the separation is from those you love and care about. Maybe you or a family member have lost your job. Maybe you are isolated from a family elder. Maybe a loved one has died, and you can’t celebrate their life properly or you are having trouble grieving. All of that and much more can have a powerful impact and contribute to the course of our lives. All we can do about the wind, these forces in life, is to adapt to them and adjust our approach. A strong wind comes, or changes direction, and our best response is to tinker with the sails to avoid sinking our boat. When things happen that are challenges in life, we can take steps and “adjust our sails” to modify the circumstances in our own behalf or better cope with them. Even if our sails get tattered and torn, we are a resilient folk, constantly adjusting ourselves and our path in response to the world. Many things happen in our lives that we might not prefer and that we cannot avoid or change. Adjust your “sails” and allow the wind to move you to remember that no matter the danger or seeming limits this pandemic may bring, there is still beauty, compassion and the wonder of life that is ours to hold and share.

“We cannot direct the winds, but we can adjust our sails.”

A Reflection...

In this time of the COVID -19 pandemic many of our friends and neighbors are experiencing anxiety, fear and isolation. I recently read a wonderful poem by an Irish Priest, Richard Hendrick which addresses those issues and gives relief to many. Even if you don’t feel especially burdened by those feelings, I think it offers wonderful insight into how to live our lives.


Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul.
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,

Let these words remind you that no matter the danger or seeming limits this pandemic may bring, there is still beauty, compassion and the wonder of life that is ours to hold and share.

A Reflection...J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

So much can be learned from the books we read:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times.

But that is not for them to decide.

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

What are you choosing to do with the time that has been given you?

A Reflection...Books and Stars

One of my favorite books is “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeline L’Engle. I loved the book and its sequels long before I had the opportunity to meet her, but that is another story.

She won the Newbery Award in 1963. In her acceptance speech, L’Engle talks about how “there are forces working in the world as never before in the history of mankind for standardization, for the regimentation of us all, or what I like to call making muffins of us, muffins all like every other muffin in the muffin tin. This is the limited universe, the drying, dissipating universe, that we can help our children avoid by providing them with explosive material capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly.”

Even though 57 years have passed I think her description still holds true.

She goes on to say, “Up on the summit of Mohawk Mountain in northwest Connecticut is a large flat rock that holds the heat of the sun long after the last of the late sunset has left the sky. We take our picnic up there and then lie on the rock and watch the stars, one pulsing slowly into the deepening blue, and then another and another and another, until the sky is full of them. A book, too, can be a star, “explosive material, capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly,” a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.”

I believe we are never too young nor too old to experience books and stars, forces moving into the expanding universe, with the light that renews its energy against the dark forces of standardization, and regimentation, and muffin making.

A Reflection...

Meister Eckhart (1260- 1327) was a Germany mystic, theologian and philosopher. Eckhart taught a radical, at the time, religious philosophy of seeing God in all. His mystical experiences and practical spiritual philosophy gained him a popular following.

from “Meister Eckhart’s Book of the Heart”

God is not what you think
or even what you believe,
because God is,
a word unspoken,
a thought unthought,
a belief unbelieved.
So if you wish to know this God,
practice wonder,
do what is good, and
cultivate silence.
The rest will follow.

A Reflection...

Today is Ash Wednesday. In the Christian tradition it is the beginning of Lent, the 46 days of preparation before Easter. It is symbolized by the marking of ashes and the reminder that we are dust and to dust we shall return. So, here is a blessing from the book Circle of Grace by Jan Richardson to begin your Ash Wednesday.

All those days you felt like dust, like dirt, as if all you had to do was turn your face toward the wind and be scattered to the four corners or swept away by the smallest breath as insubstantial—

Did you not know what the Holy One can do with dust?

This is the day we freely say we are scorched.

This is the hour we are marked by what has made it through the burning.

This is the moment we ask for the blessing that lives within the ancient ashes, that makes its home inside the soil of this sacred earth.

So let us be marked not for sorrow. And let us be marked not for shame. Let us be marked not for false humility or for thinking we are less than we are but for claiming what God can do within the dust, within the dirt, within the stuff of which the world is made, and the stars that blaze in our bones, and the galaxies that spiral inside the smudge we bear.

A Reflection...

At this time of year, we seem to get a lot of promotions for gardens – Old Farmer’s Almanac, hydroponic, seeds, how to plant, what to plant, where & when to plant.

Some of us are good gardeners. We know the how, what, where & when. We can get a wonderful harvest.

My grandfather always had the best vegetables, prettiest flowers, and a beautiful lawn.

For others of us, like me, it just doesn’t seem to happen – I love the results of a good garden, but it just hasn’t been high on my priority list for me to do.

Whether we actually do the gardening or not, I think there are certainly some principles that we can glean that are important to our life.

Here is a quote that I have carried with me for a long time: It was written by Josephine Nuese, in 1970, and published in a magazine named The Country Gard:

Anyone who thinks that gardening begins in the spring and ends in the fall is missing the best part of the whole year. For gardening begins in January, begins with the dream.

The quote is not just about gardening, but about living.

It has from time to time served as a reminder of the importance of paying attention to my hopes, dreams, and desires.

Dreams are easy to get pushed aside, replaced by the necessities of everyday life, lost from our consciousness.

There is a reason why as kids we loved magic and dreams. Stop chasing your dreams and you will forget how it feels to live hopeful and young.

So even though January is coming to an end, it is still the perfect time to stop and consider once more what your dreams were…what your dreams are.

May your dreams produce a garden of life and a most excellent way of living.

A Reflection...

Have you ever noticed that with some things we become so familiar that we tend to gloss over some of the underlying meaning? I believe that by hearing or seeing it with fresh ears or eyes we can recapture some of the essence of the original. I suspect most of you are familiar with the 23rd Psalm and find it a great source of comfort from time to time. But like other things it has become too familiar. Here is a translation of the Japanese version that I have found renews my spirit. I hope it does so for you as well;

The Lord is my pace-setter
I shall not rush.
He makes me stop and rest for quiet intervals;
Which restore my serenity.
He leads me in ways of efficiency,
Through calmness of mind,
And his guidance of peace.

Even though I have a great many things to
Accomplish each day
I will not fret,
For His presence is here,
His timelessness, His all-importance
Will keep me in balance.
He prepares refreshment and renewal
In the midst of my activity
By anointing my mind
With His oils of tranquility;
My cup of joyous energy overflows.

Surely harmony and effectiveness
Shall be the fruits of my hours,
For I shall walk in the pace of my Lord
And dwell in His house forever.

A translation of the Japanese version By Toki Miyashina from Psalm 23, Copyright by K.H. Strange, 1969, published by
The St. Andrews Press, Edinburgh

A Reflection...

The question going around as we move into the third week of the new year is, “How are you doing on your New Year’s resolutions?” Maybe you are doing well and keeping to the resolutions you have made, and if so, I applaud you and hope it will continue long enough to become the habit that makes your life better. I suspect however, that your resolves are slipping or maybe like me you didn’t even make one.

Starting each new year, I like to focus on the words of Winston Churchill, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give".

Life is not about the “things” we give but about how we give of ourselves. Things are just things. But when we give of ourselves, we are sharing a story, a life.

So, I invite you to consider the question, “What are you giving of yourself? What story are you sharing? You may not think you have much to give or share. But just consider:

Giving a smile – Did you know we have a natural in-built system to resonate with each other. When we see someone doing something, we internally "mirror" or "mimic" with them. If you smile, you make my smiling "micro muscles" go to work. I may feel better for no reason. This process is called resonance. We have an in-built system or sounding board that is acutely sensitive to others. Reach out, and from your side, create positive resonance with others.

Giving a listening ear - Listen to someone attentively without interrupting, take in their perspective fully, allow them to express themselves, and just get yourself out of the way for a while. You will be amazed at what you learn, and this may be the first time anyone has listened to them in such a profound and respectful way. They may in return listen to you.

Being grateful – There is so much for which we can be grateful. I have read that researchers have noted that 3 times more positive things happen to us than negative things every day, yet it is the negative that captures our attention. We dwell on the negative things to the detriment of the positive. Retrain yourself to look for the good in you and, just like giving a smile, you will resonate with those around you and they may find their own things to be thankful for.

Be happy - While some people think being happy is a selfish endeavor, it may just be the most unselfish thing you can do! Once again you resonate with those around you. Some researchers believe that our well-being impacts those around us up to 3 degrees of separation away from us. By taking good care of yourself, doing things you love, and being happy, you are making those around you happier, and the friends of friends of those around you happier too! And don’t forget happiness’ biggest secret: being of service to others brings us happiness.

May 2020 be the year you smile, listen, give thanks, and serve the others in your life.

A Reflection...

This past Monday, the 6th, was Epiphany and the start of the Epiphany Season. I love the way the church stresses both days of commemoration and the seasons of the year. Christmas Season started on Christmas Day and went for 12 days, until the Epiphany, January 6, and the Epiphany Season takes us to Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Epiphany is commonly known as Three Kings' Day or the coming of the Wise Men. It means “manifestation” or “showing forth”. It is also called Theophany (“manifestation of God”). There is a great tradition of Epiphany which while it has been around for a long time has only recently experienced a revival. It is “Chalking the Door.” It is when the formula 20+C+M+B+20 is written in chalk on the mantle of the door. It is an invocation of Christ’s blessing not only on the physical house but on the people who live there and those who visit.

The letters are an abbreviation for “Christus Mansionem Benedicat,” which means “May Christ bless this dwelling.” The letters C, M, B have also been associated with the traditional names for the three wise men: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar, whose arrival at Mary and Joseph’s home is celebrated on the Epiphany. The first and last numbers refer to the current year, and the plus signs in between represent the cross. 20+C+M+B+20

With all that is going on in the world around us today it strikes me as a great way to start our new year.

To quote the Rev. Mike Marsh, rector of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Uvalde, Texas, “We’re all Magi, visitors bearing gifts to other people’s homes, and we’re all the Holy Family who received the visitors.” The chalk reminds us of that. It’s a reminder that this is a home of refuge, it’s a home of love, it’s a home of Christ for you to come into. And, it’s not only for the guests who come into our homes; it’s a reminder to us when we come home that we have a home, that we have a refuge.”

I invite you to adopt a new resolution, to chalk your door and vow to remember that your home is a sacred, special place for you, your family, and all who cross your threshold. It can be as simple as gathering the family together, and with a piece of chalk write, 20+C+M+B+20, above the door and say a thanksgiving for God’s presence in that place. As the season of Epiphany continues the chalk fades, but the blessing remains. Let the chalking into your heart where it will continue to be a guide to you to live a life that honors your God, family and all you encounter.

Meditation Walk Marker

The Mandala Walk is a trail around the property that offers users the opportunity to take a meditative walk.

There are seven stopping places, with benches, which encourage meditation and reflection.

There is a guide for each of the seven stops for meditation or you can just stop, rest, enjoy the view and delight in the beauty of the natural world around you.