Friday, May 18, 2018

Write a New Story About Your Name

My sister was named for her grandmothers: Kathryn Anne came from grandma Kate Clark and grandma Anna Burrell.  My brothers each had a string of names, Gerald Roy, Neal and John Douglas Lorne. They were named for my parents' brothers and best friends. My name was chosen romantically.

This is the story that I would ask to have retold again and again. I was born in a small hospital, sixty miles away from our village. My dad couldn't be present for my birth due to Saskatchewan snow storms and a case of the mumps (both he and my sister had the mumps.) Because dad couldn't be present, he sent special flowers. The story I was told and retold was that in the flowers dad sent there was a sprig of heather and the flowers came at dawn. Hence I was named Heather Dawn. I loved that story. I loved my name.

I had never seen heather but I had seen pictures. It was really unimpressive.  In those days Heather was an unusual name and felt quite exotic to a child growing up in the prairies.

Now the name Heather is much more common, but any Heathers I know, like their names! I still like mine but gradually did not treasure its origin as I had once.  Later I traveled to Scotland and found out that heather was actually a weed, growing wild all over the heavenly place. It was usually quite scruffy. I felt I had an okay name but it wasn't special.

Today I had a shift in perspective. Our administrator had a new plant on her desk, given to her by her daughter for Mother's Day. It is unusual. It is exquisite. It is exotic. It is heather.
Me and My Namesake

As soon as I heard that it was heather, I turned to it and affirmed :
"How beautiful you are! How lovely! You are unique and exquisite. The individual blossoms look like tiny fairy trumpets!You are complex and forever unfolding. Your colors are bold and pleasing and yet the shape is quite soft.  You are not at all what I thought you were. Please forgive me for judging you so harshly."

Wow! Then it hit me. The inner me needed to hear those words about myself. I needed to be reminded to forgive myself for judging and not measuring up to my self-imposed expectations. I needed to go back to the wisdom of my inner child, the one who loved romance and felt quite special.

Now, whatever name you go by and whatever you feel about it, this is a great time to recognize your beauty, your loveliness and your uniqueness. This is the day to write a new story about your name which is your nature.

See through the eyes of love.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Dean Sluyter Fear Less Workshop This Sunday!

The Center for Spiritual Living Capistrano Valley is proud to welcome back Dean Sluyter for another amazing meditation workshop right here at our center after service! Love Offerings Welcome! 


Dean Sluyter (pronounced "slighter") has taught natural methods of meditation and awakening since 1970. His five highly acclaimed books include Natural Meditation (Amazon #1 stress management bestseller, and Nautilus Gold Medal winner for best mind-body-spirit book) and Fear Less: Living Beyond Fear, Anxiety, Anger, and Addiction. Dean gives talks, workshops, and retreats throughout the United States and beyond, from Ivy League colleges to maximum-security prisons. His media appearances have included National Public Radio, The New York Times, New York Magazine, Coast to Coast AM, The Dr. Oz Show, and O, The Oprah Magazine.

A grateful student of Eastern and Western sages in several traditions, Dean has completed numerous pilgrimages and retreats in India, Tibet, Nepal, and the West. He is known for conveying authentic teachings in forms that are relaxed, accessible, and down-to-earth. When not writing or teaching, he narrates audiobooks, makes music, and happily tools around town on his Vespa.

Born into a family of musicians and political activists, Dean grew up in New York and Los Angeles. He dropped out of college to hitchhike around the country and embark on a path of spiritual investigation, eventually returning to earn a B.A. in English and an M.A. in interdisciplinary education.
Dean lived in New Jersey for 33 years, where he was married to the late artist and teacher Maggy Sluyter, with whom he raised two children. There he taught English and developed classroom meditation programs at The Pingry School and worked with inmates at Northern State Prison. He now lives in Santa Monica, California, where he leads meditation sessions regularly and is on the faculty of the West Coast Writers Conferences. He is married to documentary filmmaker Yaffa Lerea.

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Card Not Sent

As Mother's Day approaches, I am experiencing many different feelings and memories. This will be the second Mother's Day since my Mom's passing in June of 2016.

I recently stumbled across a Mother's Day card that I had not sent. I do not remember buying this for Mom but obviously I did. And evidently I was buying it on behalf of at least some of my sisters and brothers because the message inside was:
"We'd like you to have all those bright moments... all those family feelings
You know --everything it takes to make Mother's Day just what it should be. 
You deserve it." 
I wonder why I didn't send it. The probable reason was that I put it off too long, and she would not have received it until many days or weeks after Mother's Day. However, since it was from two or more, one of my sisters could have sent a card on my behalf. Or I may have misplaced it. I do not believe I changed my mind.

My mom was always a huge cheerleader for me and for the rest of her children. She did deserve to have this card, and many other words of praise.

In the years before 2015, I know that it was my habit to Skype with Mom at least once a week. So, if the card had been purchased before she had a stroke, I would have told her how much she meant to me. But I have the uncomfortable feeling that I bought this card while she was in a nursing home; it is  a brightly colored card that was meant to bring cheer to the receiver. The home was adequate, but neither bright nor pretty. While she was there, she could no longer see her television or computer monitor or even her children when we came to visit; but she could identify our voices. So I would not have been trying to Skype. One of the hardest  consequences of the stroke was that it effectively cutting off communication with Mom and three of her five children. She couldn't see or hear when we tried to call on my sister's iPad. There were many other issues: and she could not sit upright without support, she couldn't eat food unless it was pureed, she couldn't feed herself or look after her personal needs.  In other words, the quality of her life was minimal. She was now in the state of helplessness that each one of us experienced as babies.

Now I wish that I had sent the card anyway. It might have brightened her day. I know she looked forward to my sister's daily or twice-daily visits. I wish I had sent it anyway... even though she might have gotten it in June or July, at least she would have known that her most geographically distant daughter was thinking about her with gratitude and love.

There is never a better time than the present moment to send that card or make that phone call. 

I want all readers to remember that spiritually we are all doing the best we can, every moment of every day. If we had known better we would have done better. 

It does make me think about what matters to me most. If it really is family, then I could ask myself am I making connections with the other people I love? Am I sending the cards? Am I making the phone calls or am I making excuses?

Right now is the point of power and really the only time there is. Tomorrow is still a fantasy and yesterday is just a memory. As the Salutation to the Dawn continues,
"But today, well-lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well, therefore to this day."
The back of the unsent card reads:
To those who comfort with a mother's hand, we thank you.
To those who encourage with a mother's praise, we applaud you.
To those who love with and mother's heart, we honor you--
Not just on Mother's day...always!
The inside of the unsent card

Further in

Thinking of  my mom, Lela Eugenia Burrell Clark 

Lela Clark
December 19, 1919 to June 23, 2016

Friday, May 4, 2018

Through God's Eyes

W. H. Murray was a Scottish mountaineer whose love of mount climbing is evident in his life.  One of my favorite quotes comes from his book, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition. In it he writes:
 " ... but when I said that nothing had been done I erred in one important matter. We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts. We had put down our passage money -- booked a sailing to Bombay. This may sound too simple, but it is of great consequence.
Until one is committed, there is always hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.
 Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation),
 there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the Providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help the one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance,
which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.
I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets: 'Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.'" 
This quote contains a little more of the original quote than I had read before. Up until researching this, I thought Murray had scaled Mount Everest, but I came to find out that he could not get acclimated to the altitude. However, I also found out that he had been a prisoner of war during World War II, and that he had demonstrated the power of commitment there. While he was imprisoned, he wrote his first book, Mountaineering in Scotland. He wrote it on the only paper he could get -- toilet paper. The Gestapo found it and destroyed it and much to the disbelief of his fellow prisoners, he wrote it all over again! For Murray commitment wasn't just a great idea; it was a way of life.

I am so glad to have more details of this remarkable man's life. It has been helpful and instructive to me.

I must admit that I have become indecisive about my life. I have been feeling discouraged about the diminishing attendance in our Center. I have been wondering if it was time to retire. (Although I did not know how to do that!)

So I got clear! I reminded myself of what I am and why I am here.

I am committed to growing my own consciousness, to elevate it so that I am worthy of what one of my practitioners calls, "the best job in the world."  Indeed, it is an honor and a privilege to be in service as the senior minster here at the Center for Spiritual Living.

From that elevated consciousness, I am committed to growing our community to a place in which we  care for each other's well-being, we celebrate each other's successes and we are a place of safety and love, encouraging all who choose a path of oneness and compassion and forgiveness. My commitment is to live from possibilities, no matter what! Our community is about the people in it. It is not about where we are physically located.

We have not been working together toward a shared vision. Nor have I been clear about casting that vision. Of course, I cannot do this by myself. I will need the support and help of our members and friends.

 Just as the finale in the musical Les Miserables states:
"Will you join in our crusade? Who will be strong and stand with me? Beyond the barricade Is there a world you long to see? 
The world I long to see, is one in which we love the life we are living and live the life we love. In it we see each other through God's Eyes, with compassion, tenderness and conviction. Each one of us can live the life he or she came here to live.