the online magazine for seekers of spiritual and universal truth

Stories

House of Doors – Justin Alvin

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

The little old man, made of wood
Lives in his house of glass
And he sits by the fire that burns his face
And waits for her to pass

She walks in the road, wherever it goes
Her face turned up to the sky
Singing her mother’s wedding song
He always wonders why

I once had a dream of a house of doors
With a small, small crack that grew the floor
And it let in the water that fell from the sky
Till a river was rushing and roaring inside
When each room in the house filled up with the sea
The doors opened up and released the debris
But the water was trapped in the crack in the floor
Letting grass from the ground grow up as before

The man of the year takes tea twice a day
With all who wish to see
His four-eyed wife and his two-faced son
In their house up the hickory tree

The little old lady cracks her bowl of seeds
And coughs and cackles and crows
At the end of the day she returns to her grave
A secret that nobody knows

I once had a dream of a house of doors
With a small, small crack that grew the floor
And it let in the water that fell from the sky
Till a river was rushing and roaring inside
When each room in the house filled up with the sea
The doors opened up and released the debris
But the water was trapped in the crack in the floor
Letting grass from the ground grow up as before

Song lyrics by Justin Alvin
©2010 Justin Alvin

Ice and Stillness – Photos by Marc Goldring

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

It is with some shyness that I find myself at a place where water, ice, and earth greet each other. On a chill morning, it is a quiet place, one that asks little of me. Indeed it is a place that barely acknowledges its own presence – a mere shift of cloud and sunlight would change these elements in profound ways. So I notice, and honor, the tenuousness of this visual moment. It’s what I’ve been looking for without knowing it. Tramping alone, I am cold and glad to be here.

I have been attentive to edges lately, edges and decay and reflections, my old friends. What draws me is the presence of these elements and something that I feel in my heart without concept or words. In this place I am at a borderline, a small, hectic outpost of change. It is inherent in this particular and personal mix of freezing water, earth, branches, leaves, animals, wind. And what attracts me is that in this bustling inevitability there is profound stillness. It resembles moments in meditation when stillness dominates even as action becomes imaginable. I aim to appreciate stillness in whatever form it manifests.

So, our days begin lengthen as they will. We do nothing but notice and are blessed by our knowledge that can bring hints of spring. We know the ice will melt, that imagined action will emerge from stillness. What we may also remember is that our heart need not wait for some thaw, that it might sing, right now, of the flowing even when ice remains solid, when it is cold and far from thaw.

Blessings,

Marco

[fancyflickr set=”72157623245112630“]

Stillness by Joyce Rothman

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

I’m a mom, grandmother of 2 adorable toddlers, RN, spiritual seeker and writer.   I moved from Boston to Onset – the “Gateway to Cape Cod”, 7 years ago and I’m fulfilling my long held dream of living in a village by a beautiful harbor. This is the perfect setting for the simplified life that I’ve wanted and that I continue to fine tune. I started journaling 28 years ago and many years later, through writing, I connected with spirit and began channeling divine wisdom.

I’m working on a memoir called “Making Sense of It All” which is a journaled account of how this guidance has nurtured, directed and comforted me on my life path.  I enjoy exploring other writing genres: poetry that expresses whatever needs expression in my life, at the time and nature writing with a spiritual/philosophical slant. I escape so totally into the scenery when I’m in nature, that I wanted to try my hand at capturing with words what an artist might with paint.  ‘One With Nature’ blends imagery with my spiritual growth. My blog is: wordsfromnature.wordpress.com.

STILLNESS

Everything is still in front of me, except the top of the windmill in the distance, visible above the tree line over by the canal and Mass Maritime. The empty expanse of sand in front of me is inhabited by a lone, sun bathing gull.  Even she doesn’t move.  The blues of the water change in the bay.  Closest to shore, it’s a sun lit iridescent powder blue, taking form like a large fat V lying on its side. In its middle, are royals, ceruleans, hints of purples and grays.  Only the surface moves slightly, giving the colors more definition.  The boathouse on the point across the bay sits empty in winter hibernation.  Snow lines the banks along its shore, still white and pure even though it’s a week old.  There is no activity to muddy it up. No foot prints to mar its smooth surface.  It just sits motionless– waiting to melt, and then refreeze.  All the moorings in the bay look lonely and unattached; each one motionless and white, separate from the others.  The Yacht club is closed for the season, hidden from view by stacked layers of shrink wrapped boats in dry dock.  The old Victorian homes that line the shore on the far side of the beach add a pastel quirkiness to the calm of the water.

Stillness is all I see as I view this beach in winter.  Stillness is all I feel.  It is a different kind of quiet for me – more pronounced than when I take quiet moments in a world of motion.   This is quiet that permeates me from the outside in.  Quiet that is born from the stillness of the scene I am within.  Nothing moves except that windmill in the distance and the solitary gull who takes flight every now and then. My insides feel the change.  They have been tranquilized naturally by being present here.  I too have been slowed, much to my great surprise.  Not fond of cold weather, I usually contract and withdraw from the elements.  I realize that in doing so, I’ve missed opportunities to be quieted by the winter landscape, from the outside in. But now I know.

Street Lines by Marc Goldring

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

The day was rich with texture and sound, even though it was quiet or as quiet as this place is likely to get on a workday morning. My surroundings, what I could see of them, moved and pulsed yet the activity that I was attentive to was invisible, internal. It was sensed, not seen, the work of natural forces I walk among endlessly, often without noticing.

On this early morning, I walk through the brilliant streets of this city, at the same time familiar and new. The trees are free of leaves and winter is a thought more than an experience. Today is different. As my physical body gently drops into an awareness of limitations of movement, I become more attentive. With the clarity of this decreased capacity, I slow down. What I notice is that slowing down allows me to notice moments of connection – with my heart, with all my body – so that I can focus more and more directly on what I need.

And what is needed, more often than I realize, is this attentiveness. What it brought to me that day was street lines, the markings made to guide us as we travel or ease the repair of technologies buried deep beneath our feet. To see them as I walked, so familiar, so utilitarian, and yet such odd abstractions as we look down and especially when framed by a lens. Once separated from their surroundings, there is something vaguely geographic about these images, as though we were flying high above them and they were some strange element of landscape or architecture. Or perhaps they reflect some strange, complex language from the future or the past. Street lines.

The walk continued, the din of traffic gaining in intensity. Yet the images have stayed with me and I have continued to see them and capture them with eye and lens. So I pray that I may manifest this sensitivity, this awareness more frequently and more fully in my life, to see what is always there and to see it anew – perhaps not all the time, but often enough to nudge me in the direction of openness, attention, and gratitude.

Blessings.

Street_lines-1
Street_lines-2
Street_lines-5
Street_lines-6

Visit Marc Goldring’s site at http://marcoclicks.typepad.com/

“Living Lightly” by Nancy Gibson

Friday, January 1st, 2010

As leaders living lightly
for the Golden Age of Light unfolding,
it is necessary to ignore global drama
and focus on lightness.
Lightness comes from the Heart of All
and is beyond what most people
can understand.

(Lightness is part of every bit and squeak of Creation and
exults deliciously when recognized.)
Turn all else over to your Guides, Angels and
your divinely Infinite Self.
Thus you are free to live more lightly as they
transform heaviness into
Grace.

“Miracle of the Minister” by Wendy Stephens

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Clare hurried along the cobbled street, pulling the wool scarf across her mouth, breath fogging her glasses. A chilly wind crept through York’s ancient passageways. Four o’clock on Christmas Eve. Better to be by a warm fire sipping tea but Clare was seeking peace, peace to soothe her heavy heart. So much hate in the world. The Palestinians and Jews were fighting again, the fragile peace broken by a handful of radicals; the United States and Muslim radicals were at war; China was destroying more sacred sites in Tibet; India and Pakistan were locked in a vicious cycle of retaliation; Africa was awash with horrific genocide.

Everywhere one looked a battle or confrontation was taking place, all in the name of religion. Clare found it challenging to hold to the belief that Love would prevail, that the guiding force in the universe was Love, regardless of the religious name one chose to label it.

Clare was almost at the Minster. The soaring towers dominated the scene, as they did so often, suddenly glimpsed down a narrow street. She found them both comforting and exhilarating. She climbed the few steps, tugged open the heavy door, and walked through the transept back to the Lady Chapel.

Her niche was vacant. She slipped behind the prayer rail and sat, her long coat protecting her from the cold stone. She tilted her head and gazed up at the magnificent East Window, the largest single expanse of medieval stained glass in England. “I am the beginning and the end; the Alpha and the Omega,” it signified. Clare had seen it almost blindingly vivid with the summer sun streaming through lighting the 100 images of saints, angels and martyrs. Now it was lit by concealed lights and the soft glow of prayer candles lit by visitors who filed past. She could hear organ music from the apse.

Clare leaned against the stone niche, aware of the centuries it had welcomed other troubled souls. She took several deep breaths, then more, from the belly deep, and closed her eyes.

She kept breathing, conscious of the “in” breath, the “out” breath. The murmur of voices faded, the music became distant. In…Out…In…Out. The hard stone was no longer separate from her warm coat. Stone…coat…body…chapel…air, no separation.

She drifted in this comfortable space. NOW. No time. Her heart space opened and filled. Her fears dissolved. “The peace that passeth all understanding.” It was here, this moment. She breathed in the peace.

In her mind’s eye, she saw the window towering above the Lady Chapel. She became light and airy, like a soft cloud floating, floating toward the window that glowed blue, red, yellow, as if the brightest light there ever was shone there. Closer now and the brilliant light streaked through the window turning all to a golden glow.

In an instant she was one with the light, and she swirled and swayed and soared up and up and up…sky, space, planet. She saw the earth as a sphere, like the globe she had as a child. She swirled through it, part of this golden storm of radiance. She could feel it covering the sphere, wrapping it, soaring through it. It was like a roller coaster ride… excitement, glorious excitement and joy, pure exuberance.

Then the ride slowed. The golden light became separate from her again. It swirled once more around the chapel and streaked back through the window.

Clare’s breathing quickened and became more shallow. She felt the stone, her coat too warm now. She opened her eyes and tried to focus on the scene. Slowly, she unwound the scarf from her neck. She gazed at the flickering candles.

She breathed gently, aware of the deep peace she felt. There was only Now, this moment and she breathed in the moment. Again. “I choose Peace; I choose Love.” She stayed with this thought while she observed the visitors passing, gazing up at the window. The sounds seemed softer, the faces of the people gentle and peaceful.

Perhaps it was her imagination. She smiled. Whatever it was, it was a miracle for her. The peace she felt was real and when the clouds of fear and worry floated across it, almost obscuring it with their depth, she would see through them to the truth. Love. Love is all there is.

She stood, slipped out of the niche, and walked to the tier of candles. She dropped a coin in the metal box and pulled a candle from an open basket. She lit it from one already burning and set it in the holder.

“Thank you,” she whispered. “Thank you.”

On the walk home breathing in the chilly air, damp with promised snow, she couldn’t keep her hands in the warmth of her deep pockets. They kept coming out to rub together almost like clapping. She felt like a child who feels the magic of Christmas Eve, the possibility of all dreams being fulfilled.

She smiled at the thought of angels hovering close. She envisioned a scene of snowy city walls,ancient stone towers, gray tree limbs, and golden angels with enormous wings drawing close to shelter and protect. She reached out and touched the wall–Aldwark Street. She looked into the darkness above and could feel the golden presence. More miracles. “Thank you, thank you,” she murmured, yet again.

Alex had the tea tray waiting. The gas logs were a bright spot in the dimly lit room. The tiny tree twinkled with fairy lights. She sipped the sweet, milky tea and shared her experience with Alex. He listened, the deep peace she felt spilling over to him until he could almost see the golden light streaming through the huge window.

They drifted through the evening, enjoying a candlelit supper, rereading Christmas cards from faraway, listening to carols. At midnight they stepped out into the garden to listen to the Minster bells chiming glad tidings.

Then bedtime, both still filled with deep peace and the sense of anticipation, of Christmas Eve and its magic.

In the morning, they opened stockings in bed and sipped tea. Later while Alex fixed oatmeal, Clare switched on the television.

A man in Jerusalem was being interviewed. “I saw Allah’s angels descend upon the Dome. The golden light was blinding.”

Back to the commentator who continued, “Reports are coming in from all over the globe of experiences of this nature. People are describing angels, or their versions of angels, and bright golden light. Only a portion of the world’s population celebrate Christmas but these occurrences are reported across all religious faiths.

“There are reports that all is quiet in the streets of Bagdad and Afghanistan. Soldiers on the border of India and Pakistan are laying down their arms. In Africa, the leaders have pledged billions to build an infrastructure and feed the people.

“We’re quite stunned by these reports. The Queen is expected to comment on them during her Christmas address to the nation.”
Across the bowls of oatmeal, Clare and Alex looked at each other, hands reaching out to touch, faces wet with tears.

Love does prevail. Love is all there is. Miracles do happen.

“Surviving the Holidays” by J. Howard

Friday, January 1st, 2010

On the last weekend in November before the weather turned cold and the ground became frozen, I walked out alone to the backyard of a neighbor’s property on a pilgrimage which has become an annual ritual for me. Each Christmas, I buy a fresh, live Christmas tree for my home, and each year, the ground must be prepared early for the tree it will hold when the holiday is over.

This November I chose a spot on a hill which happens to overlook an abandoned but historic cemetery. In the cemetery rests the remains of black soldiers who fought in the Civil War. The passage of time has whittled down most of the grave markers to shards of stone, but despite its forgotten quality, the cemetery has a peaceful, comfortable feeling to it.

As I slipped my shovel into the crisp earth, I was overwhelmed by a sense of joy and deep connectedness to all of nature, to the people who have passed before me, to all the people in my life now, to the possibilities that the future holds. The experience that I had while digging the hole for the Christmas-tree-to-be was about Christmas, yet this year’s annual ritual was about something more than Christmas.

Why do people become depressed around the holidays? We all have certain holiday rituals, but do they still work for us? It probably comes as no surprise in this economy, that finances are one of the most common complaints from people who are depressed. We are all surrounded by commercialism on the internet, TV, and magazines, and we feel pressure when our kids see something they ask for but we can’t afford. Some feel depressed and left out at Christmastime if they are Jewish, Muslim, or come from a culture that doesn’t celebrate Christmas. You can feel lost (and a little more than inconvenienced) if the convenience store you buy groceries from is closed on Christmas Eve. Everybody is celebrating, but it isn’t your holiday.

Tucked deep inside each of us, there is an image of Christmas that is a little like a Norman Rockwell painting: everything is perfect. But the image is not true. In truth, we have family problems, personal challenges, and goals and dreams we have not been able to realize. These problems don’t fit with the unreal perfected image that we hold up to ourselves and try to recreate. It is the distance between the myth and the reality that creates a space for depression to grow.

What can you do if you feel depressed during the holiday season? Experts in the field agree on the importance of remembering your own needs. Save a little of yourself for yourself. Create your own rituals that have special importance for you. Try creating rituals with family members, or changing the family rituals you’ve already established to change with your own needs. Find the meaning of your own particular religious holiday. One Jewish woman volunteered at a nearby hospital so that other workers could be with their families. This met her need to not feel left out, and was also an expression of giving that fit in with her own religious beliefs. Clinicians in the field of mental health uniformly agree that, if you feel depressed, you must be assertive to change your situation. To make your Christmas “happen”, you have to do something to make it happen. If you don’t want to be alone, find someone to spend your holiday with. Help out at a hospital or local church, or reconnect with old friends. You’ll be glad you did!

From the community of friends at www.healing wheel.com come our very best wishes to you for happiness this season and in the year to come.

“The Key” by S. Alvin

Friday, January 1st, 2010

In my hand my father’s house key
I am tending the house, now empty,
waiting for someone else to call it home

The key is worn from his hand,
from countless thousands of times,
again and again,
the key into the lock, to the smell of home

I see him, his hand strong, vigorous,
the key in the lock, again and again

The smooth slide of the key, the perfect fit,
the scrunch as the door releases
and then home,
again and again

Then in his Sunday whites, his hand weaker,
the tendons prominent
this same key, warmed now by my hand
into the lock, the door opens to home
again and again
until he is gone

I see myself, another key to another door
to another place I call home
the familiar connection of key to lock,
again and again
to comfort, relief

Until at last, after countless thousands of times
inevitably,
no key is necessary, and the door opens
and we are Home

“Thoughts on Teachers and Teaching” by D. P. Boivin

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Today I would like to share some ideas on teachers and their teachings that I credit to two of my favorite writers, J. Krishnamurti and Alan Watts.

If you wanted to go to Boston and you saw an arrow that said “Boston This Way”, you wouldn’t climb up the sign and sit on it; you would go in the direction in which it pointed and you would forget all about the sign. Spiritual teachers and their methods, words and books are like signposts – they are not the destination, they are just there to help point out the way.

A few years ago Krishnamurti’s writings got so into my head that I had to put his books away for good. I am still hesitant to even read a sentence or two. I would never want to have not read him – his ideas rang so true with me and made so much sense and helped me so much – it just took a long time to be able to think about life instead of life according to Krishnamurti.

Have you ever noticed when you are meditating that you’re thinking about a book you read on meditation, or the life of some sage that you want to emulate? Or when you are walking in the woods and instead of being right there in the woods, with the trees and the birds, you are thinking about the idea of bonding with the trees and the birds? When it comes to spirituality I think we tend to get too absorbed in the teacher and the ideas, and that can get in the way of the clear-headedness we need in order to truly experience what being is. Part of this, I believe, is just human nature – we put something in our minds and there it is, we’ve got to process it for a while. But if we truly want to experience an enlightened existence like the ones all the philosophers and sages and books and magazines and websites are trying to help us experience, then we’ve got to put all that down long enough to get back to the pure simplicity of the SELF and NATURE.

We can absorb others’ ideas and put them to use just as we can read a street sign and then find our way, but we need to be able to then dismiss that signpost from our minds.

I truly believe that we have everything we need to live a good, rewarding life. We just need to take good care of ourselves, body and mind. Too much of a good thing is bad, right? Just as we are careful not to overeat, perhaps we should be careful not to over stimulate our minds. A mind needs plenty of rest, too!

“One with Nature” by Joyce Rothman

Friday, January 1st, 2010

I am surrounded by astounding natural beauty as I sit on my deck. Tall trees, mostly pine and oak, rise untamed from the conservation land behind my cedar fence. The leaves barely move now but earlier they spoke with the rustle of the sea wind. They sounded like the woods of Maine, even though they’re planted in Cape soil and sand. The sky above is so crisp it could be sliced cleanly by a sky writer. Void of clouds, planes or any intrusion, it is uniform in color, almost a luminescent blue. The birds must be readying for rest. They’ve taken to the trees where only an energetic few still chirp. The hummingbird couple retired after a ten minute visit to my red bee balm plants and yellow honeysuckle vine. The colors of my flowers need no artist. They are creations of nature. The breeze picks up for a moment and another hummingbird flits by.

In allowing myself to really see what is before me, not only are my eyes open but my mind is too. So much pours in now. Gratitude for this feast before me fills my senses and brings me peace; for it is here that I feel both the stillness and movement of nature and come to understand that this is how nature is. Just as the hummingbirds come and go, as the leaves rustle then stop, as the birds are silent, then sing, I too am changing. In quiet, sound is born. In stillness, action begins. In my sadness at not being in love, the energy of one to come begins. In my times of loneliness, a connection stirs. Since I too am part of nature, my movement is the same. What is not here now will soon appear, just as what is here now, may depart.

With this understanding comes acceptance of the flow of the natural world we are one with and I find faith; faith that if I’m in tune with the ways of nature and remain aware of its energy and movement, all that is not well will soon be and what has left, will again return. Maybe different but it will be new, recreated or reformed. But it will appear, if I keep my eyes, my heart, my mind and ears open. For if I don’t, it may pass me by and I’ll never even know that I had the chance to see, to love, to grab hold of. I’ve learned in this writing, that each change in nature is a reminder for me to watch, pay attention and keep faith that the winds of change are in constant motion, that it is how the cycles go and I will flow with it as it flows through me.

JoyceI’m a mom, grandmother of 2 adorable toddlers, RN, spiritual seeker and writer.   I moved from Boston to Onset – the “Gateway to Cape Cod”, 7 years ago and I’m fulfilling my long held dream of living in a village by a beautiful harbor. This is the perfect setting for the simplified life that I’ve wanted and that I continue to fine tune. I started journaling 28 years ago and many years later, through writing, I connected with spirit and began channeling divine wisdom.

I’m working on a memoir called “Making Sense of It All” which is a journaled account of how this guidance has nurtured, directed and comforted me on my life path.  I enjoy exploring other writing genres: poetry that expresses whatever needs expression in my life, at the time and nature writing with a spiritual/philosophical slant. I escape so totally into the scenery when I’m in nature, that I wanted to try my hand at capturing with words what an artist might with paint.  ‘One With Nature’ blends imagery with my spiritual growth. My blog is: wordsfromnature.wordpress.com.