Catching the Light…

The theme for March for the Be Zine is “renewal”. I think it’s a wonderful, appropriate subject, since Spring is practically at our doorstep (all the current snow and ice-storms notwithstanding) and our part of the world is waking up from the dark sleep of winter to the return of longer days (and light!). As the buds and bright green things begin to venture forth, it’s as if all of nature is renewing itself for another year.

Romans 12.2It can be this way with people, too, you know. We can renew ourselves by shaking off the sluggishness of the winter season and stretching, reaching for the light.  In fact, we don’t even have to wait until Spring to do it. Each and every day is a chance for a new start, a chance to renew ourselves!

The following photos were part of one of my mother’s art series called “Catch the Light”, where she explored the realm of digital photography by using light and shadows and various interesting objects.  In these I’ve posted, she used a water lily flower from the pond in her yard and Aurora Borealis beads.

AB "Catch the Light" 13-7 Bettye Holte © 2003 all rights reserved

AB “Catch the Light” 13-7 Bettye Holte © 2003 all rights reserved

Both the beads and lily are great examples of “catching the light”. The beads, in case you’ve never heard of them, were created in the 1950’s by the famous Swarovski Crystal Company.  To make the beautiful beads you see here, they use a stone/crystal that has been coated with thin layers of metal, to enhance the brilliance and reflective color qualities.  The method of coating the stone/crystal involves vaporizing metals in a vacuum.

AB "Catch the Light" 13-11 Bettye Holte © 2003 all rights reserved

AB “Catch the Light” 13-11 Bettye Holte © 2003 all rights reserved

The water lily (or, as a symbol, the lotus) has also been used for thousands of years as a metaphor for enlightenment (and perpetual renewal, each day) in several religions.  In Buddhism, different colors of lotuses mean different things, but the flower is generally associated with enlightenment, purity, beauty, spirituality, love and compassion. In Hinduism, it symbolizes purity, spiritual enlightenment and wisdom. In Egyptian culture, it has long been a symbol of rebirth and the Sun.

How can we, as people, “catch the light” and renew ourselves each day?

Doe Zantamada Every morningWhen you wake up each day, remember that you have a whole new 24 hours to make you and your life into what you want it to be! Something to become aware of, is what are the things you are passionate about? What makes you feel alive and enthusiastic about life? Are you doing them? Why or why not? Make time! Do them! You only get one life, so make it as full as you possibly can with what you love and what sparks happiness inside of you.

I believe another important thing to consider is becoming aware of what things drag us down or block our reception of the light (the happiness and joy) around us. Once you can see what’s casting a shadow on your life (so to speak), then you can concentrate on what you need to do to get rid of it. Speaking of concentration, energy focused on the positive things in your life is much more productive and rewarding than always looking at the negatives.  Like attracts like. The energy you send out to the universe will return to you ten-fold, so why not try to catch (and project) some light? :)

Dumbledore light buzzfeed

Posted in Awareness, Flowers, Food For Thought, Inspiration, Life, Light, Philosophical Ponderings, Present, Renewal, Spring, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Bread as the face of God

there-are-people-in-the-world-so-hungry-that-god-cannot-appear-to-them-except-in-the-form-of-breadHow many times in your life have you been truly hungry? I don’t mean normal hunger that comes from skipping a meal or two, I mean the kind of hunger that causes a literal pain and gnawing in your belly. We may get reminded of global hunger by late night info-mercials with children who look like walking skeletons,  or if we interact with homeless people at all, we may see hints of it. You might have been scolded as a child to “finish your food because there are kids starving in Africa!” Some of us may even know people who struggle to put food on the table for their families. But chances are, you’ve never had to deal with the kind of hunger and malnutrition that can kill you.

Lent season is coming up and that leads many to think about fasting.  That, in turn, can remind us of hunger, and how many people there are in the world who are always hungry.  Lent is also a time when people give up vices, and spend that money that they would have spent on their vice on charity, instead. I think helping out someone who is hungry is an excellent substitute.

Mother-Teresa-Quotes-about-poor-person-dies-of-hunger

Some sobering facts for you:

  • The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that nearly 870 million people of the 7.1 billion people in the world, or one in eight, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012. ~ Source

  • The world produces enough food to feed all 7 billion people, but those who go hungry either do not have land to grow food or money to purchase it. ~ Source

  • Nearly 98% of worldwide hunger exists in underdeveloped countries. ~ Source

  • Almost 1 in every 15 children in developing countries dies from hunger. ~ Source

The good news is that overall, world hunger has actually decreased, thanks in large part to awareness campaigns, global government programs and more people pitching in to help.  There is still a long, long way to go.

What can you do to help? I’m glad you asked! :)

Locally:

Supermarket Stakeout

Food Forward

Ideas to help from Bread.Org

Click to give (Greater Good Network)

Globally:

Feed the future

GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative)

Bread For the World

Practical Action.org

Borgen Project.org

World Food Programme

Action Against Hunger

Here’s a really good video that addresses global hunger, the reasons behind it and what can be done to help:

Posted in Famine, Food, Food For Thought, Giving, Human Rights, Hunger, Life, Past Present and Future, Poverty | 2 Comments

~ Tree Cathedral Acrostic ~

"Tree Cathedral" © Corina L. Ravenscraft 2013

“Tree Cathedral” © Corina L. Ravenscraft 2013

Deep within an overgrown, ancient wood

In solitude, lies the earthy peace I seek.

Voices of the sacred Mother’s brood

In whispers of wind and burbles of creek.

Nature always calls her dear children home,

Ever connected, though they may forget.

Fertile ground found in fern green and black loam,

Elder trees march in dark jade silhouette.

Mossy fingers float, to caress passers by,

Infusing each visitor with reverence and awe.

Natural cathedrals stretch spires to the sky,

In celebration of the Earth Mother’s law.

Nearer, in the wilds, to the Divine Feminine.

Eager is this child to commune once again.

~ © C.L.R. ~ 2014

 

Posted in Acrostic, Awareness, Divine Feminine, Ecology, Environment, Health, Life, Nature, Peace, Poetry, Trees, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Some Early Seasonal Cheer

December is usually that time of year that we reflect on the year which is almost done and start thinking about Christmas and the coming new year. For me, this means a “clearing out” of things I’ve accumulated or held onto throughout the year (mentally, emotionally, spiritually and especially physically). In the tradition of “clearing out”, I’ve been slowly but surely deleting old e-mails.

One of them I came across was from several years ago and I thought I would share the joy of it with all of you, in case you hadn’t seen it. It was about Christmas Trees from all over the world.  It seems that the Christmas Tree is a global symbol of celebration and delight at this time of year. The lights twinkle, the ornaments sparkle, and the decorating brings together friends and family to provide the warmth of camaraderie during the cold, dark, winter month of December. So sit back, grab a hot toddy or cup of hot cocoa and enjoy seeing how others celebrate their Christmas Trees. :) (Note: The photos and text by each picture are what was included in the e-mail).

Times Square Tree

Before the ball drops in Times Square, the Big Apple turns on its
holiday charm with the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center.

White House Tree

The Capitol Christmas tree in Washington, D.C., is decorated with 3,000 ornaments that are the handiwork of U.S. schoolchildren. Encircling evergreens in the ‘Pathway of Peace’ represent the 50 U.S. states.

Monte Ingino TreeThe world’s largest Christmas tree display rises up the slopes of Monte Ingino outside of Gubbio, in Italy’s Umbria region.
Composed of about 500 lights connected by 40,000 feet of wire, the ‘tree’ is a modern marvel for an ancient city.

tokyos-akasaka-grand-prince-hotel tree
A Christmas tree 100 Meters tall, befitting Tokyo’s nighttime neon display is
projected onto the exterior of the Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka.
Prague Tree

Illuminating the Gothic facades of Prague’s Old Town Square, and casting its glow over the manger display of the famous Christmas market, is a grand tree cut in the Sumava mountains
in the southern Czech Republic.

Murano Glass Tree

Venice ‘s Murano Island renowned throughout the world for its quality glasswork is home to the tallest glass tree in the world. Sculpted by master glass blower Simone Cenedese, the artistic Christmas tree is a modern
reflection of the holiday season.

Moscow TreeMoscow celebrates Christmas according to the Russian Orthodox calendar on Jan. 7. For weeks beforehand, the city is alive with festivities in anticipation of Father Frost’s arrival on his magical troika with the Snow Maiden. He and his helper deliver gifts under the New Year Tree, or Yolka, which is traditionally a fir.

Lisbon-Praça do Comércio TreeThe largest Christmas tree in Europe (more than 230 feet tall) can be found in the Praça do Comércio in Lisbon, Portugal. Thousands of lights adorn the tree, adding to the special enchantment of the city during the holiday season.

German chapel Tree‘Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree': Even in its humblest attire,
aglow beside a tiny chapel in Germany’s Karwendel mountains,
a Christmas tree is a wondrous sight.

Lafayette dept store treeOoh la la, Galeries Lafayette! In Paris, even the Christmas trees are chic. With its monumental, baroque dome, plus 10 stories of lights and high fashion, it’s no surprise this show-stopping department store draws more visitors than the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower!
St Peters Square TreeIn addition to the Vatican’s heavenly evergreen, St. Peter’s Square in Rome hosts a larger-than-life nativity scene in front of the obelisk.

Christmas Tree at Puerta del Sol in MadridThe Christmas tree that greets revelers at the Puerta del Sol is dressed for a party. Madrid’s two-week celebration makes
millionaires along with merrymakers. On Dec. 22, a lucky citizen
will win El Gordo (the fat one), the world’s biggest lottery.

Trafalgar-Square-TreeA token of gratitude for Britain’s aid during World War II,
the Christmas tree in London’s Trafalgar Square has been
the annual gift of the people of Norway since 1947.

Frankfurt Tree

Drink a glass of gluhwein from the holiday market at the Romer Frankfurt‘s city hall since 1405 and enjoy a taste of Christmas past.

Location unknown treeAgainst a backdrop of tall, shadowy firs, a rainbow trio of
Christmas trees lights up the night (location unknown).

Posted in Christmas, Holidays, Trees, Uncategorized, Winter | 2 Comments

Remembrance and Gratitude

November is a month of both remembrance and gratitude. Here in the United States we have Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving, but how often have you thought about them in the same context? What I mean is, how often have you thought about the veterans and what they will do for/at Thanksgiving?

“Although flawless counts are impossible to come by – the transient nature of homeless populations presents a major difficulty – the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that 49,933 veterans are homeless on any given night.” ~ National Coalition for Homeless Veterans

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for what we have in our lives. It’s also a time to give back to those who are less fortunate. It can be an opportunity to “serve those who serve/have served us” and there are plenty of vets who need the help. So here’s what you can do to help, if you’re so inclined:

  • Determine the need in your community. Visit with homeless veteran service providers. Contact your mayor’s office for a list of providers, or search the NCHV database.
  • Involve others. If you are not already part of an organization, align yourself with a few other people who are interested in attacking this issue.
  • Participate in local homeless coalitions. Chances are, there is one in your community. If not, this could be the time to bring people together around this critical need.
  • Make a donation to your local homeless veteran service provider.
  • Check for places in your area that will be offering Thanksgiving dinner for homeless vets. This is one example. Check local churches, food banks, the Salvation Army or soup kitchens who might need donations of food or money or who could use volunteers on that day (or any other day, for that matter).
  • Offer to drive a veteran to an event.  The DAV has a program to make this easy for anyone wanting to help. Simply click the link at the beginning of this sentence and see for yourself.
  • Keep veterans off the streets

    “In times of war, exhausted combat units were removed from the battlefield to “stand down” in a place of relative security to rest. The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Stand Down program is designed to help homeless veterans “combat” life on the streets. Stand Downs are usually one- to three-day events to provide food, shelter, clothing and health screenings to homeless and unemployed veterans. To find a Stand Down program in your community, contact your local VA hospital in the VA Medical Center Directory.

    A phone call can also make difference in the life of a veteran who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Call 877-4AID-VET, or 877-424-3838, to be connected 24 hours a day, seven days a week with help at the VA. The VA has set a goal of eliminating homelessness among veterans by 2015.” ~ from CNN.com

  • Here are some more sites to give you some extra ideas:

Military.com

The Veteran’s Site (part of the Greater Good Network)

US Vets Inc.org

Milserve.org

Oprah.com

Posted in Family, Food, Food For Thought, Giving, Gratitude, Holidays, Homelessness, Hunger, Inspiration, Life, Politics, Poverty, Present, Thanksgiving, Veterans, War | 2 Comments

The B Zine

Hello, all you readers!

I wanted to let you know about a really neat collaboration of creative and amazing individuals, called the “B Zine”.  The B Zine is a collective effort by writers from the sites Beguine Again and The Bardo Group and features perspectives from all over the world. Each month, it will feature different stories, photos, poems, essays, etc. with lots of thought-provoking ideas, beautiful photos, inspiration and humor to make your day a little bit brighter.  Take a look, I promise you won’t be disappointed. ;)

Posted in Creativity, Food For Thought, Giving, Gratitude, Humor, Inspiration, Life, Literature, Peace, Philosophical Ponderings, Photo Challenges, Poetry, Prose, Social Media, Stories | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Conducive to Peace

I wanted to write something else for October’s theme of Peace over at Begin Again, and my inspiration came last week. I was reminded of how easy it can be to get sucked into things like fear and anger, even downright hatred, on Social Media platforms like Facebook.

Image borrowed from http://hellenjc.wordpress.com
Image borrowed from http://hellenjc.wordpress.com

There can be no peace where there is fear and anger. Taoist teachings tell us that Fear, Anger and Hatred are inner demons which must be fought with Chi (which is a positive, inner life-force made stronger by Virtue).  I was thinking about the idea of Social Media and how it can negatively impact us and was reminded of  verse/chapter 24 of the Tao Te Ching:

                   “He who stands on tiptoe is not steady.
                     He who strides cannot maintain the pace.
                     He who makes a show is not enlightened.
                     He who is self-righteous is not respected.
                     He who boasts achieves nothing.
                     He who brags will not endure.
                     According to followers of the Tao,
                    “These are extra food and unnecessary luggage.”
                     They do not bring happiness.
                     Therefore followers of the Tao avoid them.”

Places like Facebook are prime examples of how easy it is to be manipulated into these kinds of emotions. Think about it, how often do you see people boasting, bragging, being self-righteous on Facebook? There is a lot of fear and hate-mongering, too; posts that are designed to inflame passions, create rifts and sow dissent.

Image borrowed from soulseeds.com
Image borrowed from soulseeds.com

Keep in mind that there are plenty of things posted online that can be used to divide people — News, Social Media, Blogs, etc. All this “stirring up” is not conducive to Peace. Sometimes it is only when you step back from it that you can see the truth of exactly how you’re being used and manipulated and who is doing it. But you also have to remember that you allow it. Placing yourself in a situation where the inner demons will be provoked is not a good practice.

 

Image from http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v316/DragonKatet/peace2.jpg
Image from http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v316/DragonKatet/peace2.jpg

So be mindful. Be aware of how the Media (of any sort) relies upon your emotional/intellectual participation for it to be effective and how that can affect your sense of well being and inner peace.

Posted in Awareness, Environment, Food For Thought, Friendship, Frustration, Inspiration, Life, Media, Past Present and Future, Peace, Social Media, Tech, Uncategorized | 3 Comments