What is a friend?

Friends share their lives with each other. Friends make time for each other. Friends tell each other what is going on in their lives in person and not on social media. If you find out that something big happened to a friend of yours on social media, then they aren’t really your friend.

Friends are people who tell you when they are in the hospital so you can visit them. Friends are people who visit you when you’re in the hospital. I don’t mean people who say they’re going to, but those who actually visit. Friends are people who when you are home recuperating will bring you food or come and entertain you.

Actions speak louder than words. Promises mean nothing if they aren’t fulfilled. Friends follow through.

Friends are people who tell you when they are going to get married or when their children get married. Friends tell you when they are going to get divorced, too. This is about sharing the big details of your life with them.

As was wisely said to me once – Trouble shared halves it, joy shared doubles it. Friends share both with each other, and it is mutual and even. If one person is only sharing the bad things, then it isn’t a healthy relationship. That is too much for a friend to carry. That person needs a therapist or a counselor, not a friend. If a person only shares the good things and not the hard things, it means they don’t trust their friend to help them with it. There has to be a balance of good and bad from both people for it to be a healthy friendship.

Friends are people who invite you to events. If they are constantly hanging out with other people and never with you then they are not your friend, even if they say they are. If you are always the one who calls or makes arrangements for lunch dates or outings, even if the other person seems happy to be there, then you really aren’t friends.

It is very strange for a friend to not invite you to events and then ask “Why don’t we see you anymore?” This is especially true if she is sharing those events with mutual friends and then posting them on social media where you will see it. If you want to see someone, you include them. You think about their feelings and not make them feel excluded.

Friends are people who are comfortable enough with you to disagree with you, but not all the time. Someone who disagrees all the time is disagreeable. However it also isn’t okay to have someone who’s constantly agreeing. You want someone who is comfortable expressing their opinion and is willing to correct you when you are wrong.

Friends stick with you when times get tough, such as when your parents or your spouse dies. Even if they have never been through something that hard, they still contact you and ask to visit. When someone is going through something that hard, they need their friends even more. Losing your parents and your friends at the same time is very hard.

Musings on “Mem”

The Hebrew letter Mem looks like this מ

It sounds like the letter M. By the way, this is the shape of the M at the beginning or the middle of the word. The one at the end of a word is closed and looks like this ם. That isn’t part of this musing today – perhaps another day when I learn more about it.

According to David Sacks, creator and speaker in “Spiritual Tools for an Outrageous World” (an Orthodox, Chassidic, and often Kabbalistic Jewish podcast) the letter Mem is a symbol of the womb. The center of it is where the baby is, and the bottom is where the baby comes out. You may have to copy and paste the Hebrew letter Mem and make it larger to see the opening at the bottom to understand this, because this website makes the font very small.

According to Jewish grammar, Mem means “from” – yet it also turns a verb into a noun. It can be seen in the word (transliterated for ease) Mitzvah (commandment), which is derived from the verb Tzavah, which means “command”.

Mem, a symbol of the womb, is the thing that turns a verb – action, spirit, essence, – into a noun – actuality, physicality.

This blew me away.

Especially since Mary, (which really would be Miryam מִרְיָם) (Hebrew reads right to left) is the mother of Jesus – spirit made flesh.

We are all called to be like Mary – the letter Mem – to bring forth God’s will into the world. We are all called to make the idea into reality. We do that by serving God every day by being merciful and kind, by being just. We do it by building homes for the homeless and by giving clothing to the naked, and by healing the sick. These all sound like verbs, but they are verbs made real by doing them rather than just thinking about them.

Art Attack

I want to get my art started. It isn’t beating very well. I forget to take time to exercise it, to keep it healthy.
It isn’t due to lack of materials. I’ve got paint and canvas and decoupage goop and brushes and watercolor pencils and watercolor paper. The list goes on. Trust me, I’ve got stuff. I even have a cute little bin that looks a bit like a small attaché case that I’ve put the words “Art Attack” on it using my label maker. I figure if it is portable, then I’ll do it more. Nope. Rarely works.
I’ve seen books that I like the style of. A little bit of words, and a painting or three to a page. Sometimes they are travel books, sometimes they are children’s books. The illustrations are irregularly sized, mostly rectangles though. Some people can make watercolor look so simple.
I’ve decided that I’m making this too hard. Just like with writing, I need to set aside time to do this. Once a week? Once a day? Whatever I pick, I’m going to have to stick to it. If I wait for the muse, she’ll never come. Sometimes you have to go find her.
Part of the issue that I’m having is I like to be free with my art. I like to get immersed when I’m creating. I don’t want to have to suddenly stop and have to get ready to go to work. Art, when done well, is transformative. It is like a soul-journey. It is like getting stoned, but without the illegal part. So I don’t really want to work on my art first thing in the morning. But then I don’t have time when I get home, and the light is bad.
Another issue is that I don’t want to waste the materials. I want to use them well, to make good art. Paint and canvas can’t be re-used in the same way that beads can. You can’t move stuff around to make it look better in the way that you can with words, either. I feel a need to think it through and get it right. So instead of potentially making a mistake, I make nothing. Talk about wasting materials.
I need to follow my own advice. Something is better than nothing, and if I make up too many rules about this then I’ll never do it. If I think that it has to be perfect, to look like the illustrations in the books I enjoy, then I’ll never do it. So I have to commit to this, and just create. I need to create for the sake of creating, with no editing or self-censoring. I need to remember that it isn’t the end product that is the point, and to just enjoy the process.
There is nothing like drawing something to make you really SEE it. There is this concept called closure – we see what we think we are seeing, most of the time. We see what we expect to see. But when we slow down and try to draw something, we notice all the things we’ve missed. By making art, I learn to really use my eyes to see, not just to look.

Religious books

When I say “religious” I don’t mean just Christian. I mean “follower of God”, the Creator, the Divine Spirit – whatever you name the Force that animates us and created us and loves us.

These are books I’ve read that I find useful or helpful. They are in no particular order. They speak to what it means to have an active faith. They are about living a life that is directed by love and service. There is a lot of questioning in there too. If you local library does not have these books you can ask them to order them via Inter Library Loan.

CALL # 277.3 M6437t.
AUTHOR Miles, Sara, 1952-
TITLE Take this bread : a radical conversion / Sara Miles.
EDITION 1st ed.
IMPRINT New York : Ballantine Books, c2007.
DESCRIPT xviii, 283 p. ; 22 cm.
SUBJECT Christian converts — United States — Biography.
SUBJECT Church work with the poor — United States.
SUBJECT Food relief — United States.
ISBN/ISSN 0345486927.
ISBN/ISSN 9780345486929.

CALL # 248.32 B87717p.
AUTHOR Brown, Patricia D., 1953-
TITLE Paths to prayer : finding your own way to the presence of God / Patricia D. Brown.
EDITION 1st ed.
IMPRINT San Francisco, Calif. : Jossey-Bass, c2003.
DESCRIPT vii, 343 p. : ill. ; 19 cm.
SUBJECT Prayer.
ISBN/ISSN 0787965650 (alk. paper)

CALL # 248.4 C4542c.
AUTHOR Chan, Francis, 1967-
TITLE Crazy love : overwhelmed by a relentless God / Francis Chan ; with Danae Yankoski.
IMPRINT Colorado Springs, Colo. : David C. Cook, 2008.
DESCRIPT 205 p. ; 21 cm.
SUBJECT Christian life.
ALT AUTHOR Yankoski, Danae.
ISBN/ISSN 9781434768513 (trade pbk.)
ISBN/ISSN 1434768511 (trade pbk.)

CALL # 242 S8442s.
AUTHOR Stevens, Becca, 1963-
TITLE Sanctuary : unexpected places where God found me / Becca Stevens.
IMPRINT Nashville, TN : Dimensions for Living, 2005.
DESCRIPT 125 p. ; 18 cm.
SUBJECT Stevens, Becca, 1963-
SUBJECT Meditations.
ISBN/ISSN 0687494206 (pbk. : alk. paper)

CALL # Fiction Kazantz.
AUTHOR Kazantzakis, Nikos, 1883-1957.
TITLE Saint Francis : a novel / by Niko Kazantzakis ; translated from the Greek by P. A. Bien.
IMPRINT New York : Simon and Schuster, 1962.
DESCRIPT 379 p. ; 22 cm.
SUBJECT Francesco d’Assisi, Saint, 1182-1226 — Fiction.
ADD TITLE PhtŻochoulŻes tou Theou. English.

CALL # 231.3 C4542f.
AUTHOR Chan, Francis, 1967-
TITLE Forgotten God : reversing our tragic neglect of the Holy Spirit / Francis Chan with Danae Yankoski.
EDITION 1st ed.
IMPRINT Colorado Springs, CO : David C. Cook, 2009.
DESCRIPT 186 p. ; 21 cm.
NOTE Includes bibliographical references (p. 167)
NOTE It doesn’t make sense that Almighty God would have children
characterized by fear and insecurity. Could it be that we’ve
forgotten the One who distinguishes us from every other
religion and cult in the world? Chan returns us to the Holy
Spirit as the Bible describes Him.
SUBJECT Holy Spirit.
SUBJECT Spiritual life — Christianity.
ALT AUTHOR Yankoski, Danae.
ISBN/ISSN 9781434767950 (trade pbk.)
ISBN/ISSN 1434767957 (trade pbk.)

CALL # 813.54 L235g.
AUTHOR Lamott, Anne.
TITLE Grace (eventually) : thoughts on faith / Anne Lamott.
IMPRINT New York : Riverhead Books, 2007.
DESCRIPT 253 p. ; 21 cm.
SUBJECT Lamott, Anne — Religion.
SUBJECT Novelists, American — 20th century — Biography.
SUBJECT Christian biography — United States.
SUBJECT Faith.
ISBN/ISSN 9781594489426.
ISBN/ISSN 1594489424.

CALL # j248.32 M118p.
AUTHOR MacBeth, Sybil.
TITLE Praying in color / Sybil MacBeth.
EDITION Kids’ ed.
IMPRINT Brewster, Mass. : Paraclete Press, c2009.
DESCRIPT 38 p. : col. ill. ; 26 cm.
SUBJECT Prayer — Christianity — Juvenile literature.
SUBJECT Color drawing — Religious aspects — Christianity — Juvenile
literature.
ISBN/ISSN 9781557255952 (pbk.) :
ISBN/ISSN 1557255954 (pbk.)

CALL # 291.43 S9744p.
AUTHOR Sweeney, Jon M., 1967-
TITLE Praying with our hands : 21 practices of embodied prayer from the world’s spiritual traditions / Jon M. Sweeney ; photographs by Jennifer J. Wilson ; foreword by Tessa Bielecki ; afterword byTaitetsu Unno.
IMPRINT Woodstock, Vt. : SkyLight Paths Pub., c2000.
DESCRIPT 83 p. : ill. ; 21 cm.
NOTE Includes bibliographical references (p. 83)
SUBJECT Prayer.
SUBJECT Body, Human — Religious aspects.
SUBJECT Hand — Religious aspects.
ISBN/ISSN 1893361160 (pbk.)

CALL # 283.092 M6437j.
AUTHOR Miles, Sara, 1952-
TITLE Jesus freak : feeding, healing, raising the dead / Sara Miles.
EDITION 1st ed.
IMPRINT San Francisco, CA : Jossey-Bass, c2010.
DESCRIPT xx, 171 p. ; 22 cm.
SUBJECT Miles, Sara, 1952-
SUBJECT Saint Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church (San Francisco,
Calif.) — Biography.
SUBJECT Christian converts — United States — Biography.
SUBJECT Church work with the poor — California — San Francisco.
SUBJECT Food banks — California — San Francisco.
SUBJECT Christian life — Anglican authors.
ISBN/ISSN 9780470481660.
ISBN/ISSN 0470481668.

CALL # 801.9 L5662w.
AUTHOR L’Engle, Madeleine.
TITLE Walking on water : reflections on faith & art / Madeleine L’Engle.
IMPRINT Wheaton, Ill. : H. Shaw, c1980.
DESCRIPT 198 p. ; 22 cm.
SUBJECT L’Engle, Madeleine.
SUBJECT Christianity and the arts.
ISBN/ISSN 0865474877.
ISBN/ISSN 087788918X.
ISBN/ISSN 0877888965.

CALL # 299 H69t 1982.
AUTHOR Hoff, Benjamin, 1946-
TITLE The Tao of Pooh / Benjamin Hoff ; illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard.
EDITION 1st ed.
IMPRINT New York : E.P. Dutton, c1982.
DESCRIPT x, 158 p. : ill. ; 19 cm.
SUBJECT Milne, A. A. (Alan Alexander), 1882-1956 — Characters — Winnie
the Pooh.
SUBJECT Milne, A. A. (Alan Alexander), 1882-1956 — Religion.
SUBJECT Children’s stories, English — History and criticism.
SUBJECT Winnie-the-Pooh (Fictitious character)
SUBJECT Teddy bears in literature.
SUBJECT Taoism in literature.
SUBJECT Taoism.
ISBN/ISSN 0525244581.
ISBN/ISSN $0525244581.

LOCATIONS Goodlettsville-Suppression & Main
CALL # 248.32 S5419i.
AUTHOR Sheets, Dutch.
TITLE Intercessory prayer / Dutch Sheets.
IMPRINT Ventura, Calif., U.S.A. : Regal, c1996.
DESCRIPT 275 p. ; 22 cm.
NOTE Includes bibliographical references (p. [263]-264) and indexes.
SUBJECT Intercessory prayer.
ISBN/ISSN 0830718885 (hardcover)
ISBN/ISSN 0830719008 (trade paper)

CALL # 296.4 D261t.
AUTHOR Shendelman, Sara.
TITLE Traditions : the complete book of prayers, rituals, and blessings for every Jewish home / Sara Shendelman and Avram Davis.
EDITION 1st ed.
IMPRINT New York : Hyperion, c1998.
DESCRIPT 255 p. : col. ill. ; 22 cm.
NOTE Includes bibliographical references (p. 239-243)
SUBJECT Judaism — Customs and practices.
SUBJECT Fasts and feasts — Judaism.
SUBJECT Jewish families — Prayer-books and devotions — English.
ALT AUTHOR Davis, Avram.
ISBN/ISSN 0786863811 :

CALL # 813.54 L235p.
AUTHOR Lamott, Anne.
TITLE Plan B : further thoughts on faith / Anne Lamott.
IMPRINT New York: Riverhead Books, 2005.
DESCRIPT 320 p. ; 21 cm.
SUBJECT Lamott, Anne — Religion.
SUBJECT Novelists, American — 20th century — Biography.
SUBJECT Christian biography — United States.
SUBJECT Faith.
ISBN/ISSN 1573222992 (alk. paper)
ISBN/ISSN 0739457985 (pbk.)
ISBN/ISSN 9780739457986 (pbk.)

CALL # 813.54 L235t.
AUTHOR Lamott, Anne.
TITLE Traveling mercies : some thoughts on faith / Anne Lamott.
EDITION 1st ed.
IMPRINT New York : Pantheon Books, c1999.
DESCRIPT x, 275 p. ; 22 cm.
SUBJECT Lamott, Anne — Religion.
SUBJECT Women novelists, American — 20th century — Biography.
SUBJECT Christian biography — United States.
SUBJECT Mothers and sons — United States.
SUBJECT Faith.
ISBN/ISSN 0385496095 (Anchor pbk.)
ISBN/ISSN 0679442405.

CALL # 283.092 T2386a.
AUTHOR Taylor, Barbara Brown.
TITLE An altar in the world : a geography of faith / Barbara Brown Taylor.
EDITION 1st ed.
IMPRINT New York : HarperOne, 2009.
DESCRIPT xvii, 216 p. ; 22 cm.
NOTE Includes bibliographical references (p. [213]-216)
SUBJECT Taylor, Barbara Brown.
SUBJECT Episcopal Church — Clergy — Biography.
SUBJECT Anglican Communion — United States — Clergy — Biography.
SUBJECT Spiritual life — Christianity.
ISBN/ISSN 9780061370465.
ISBN/ISSN 0061370460.

CALL # 283.092 T2386L.
AUTHOR Taylor, Barbara Brown.
TITLE Leaving church : a memoir of faith / Barbara Brown Taylor.
EDITION 1st ed.
IMPRINT [San Francisco] : HarperSanFrancisco, c2006.
DESCRIPT xiii, 234, [1] p. ; 22 cm.
NOTE Includes bibliographical references (p. [235])
SUBJECT Taylor, Barbara Brown.
SUBJECT Episcopal Church — Clergy — Biography.
SUBJECT Anglican Communion — United States — Clergy — Biography.
ISBN/ISSN 0060771747.
ISBN/ISSN 9780060771744.

CALL # 253.53 G92h.
AUTHOR Guenther, Margaret, 1930-
TITLE Holy listening : the art of spiritual direction / Margaret Guenther.
IMPRINT Cambridge, Mass. : Cowley Publications, c1992.
DESCRIPT 146 p. ; 22 cm.
NOTE Includes index.
NOTE 92-27431BL.
SUBJECT Guenther, Margaret, 1930-
SUBJECT Spiritual direction.
SUBJECT Women — Religious life.
ISBN/ISSN 1561010561 :

CALL # 283.092 P96414d.
AUTHOR Proctor, Minna.
TITLE Do you hear what I hear? : religious calling, the priesthood, and my father / Minna Proctor.
IMPRINT New York : Viking, 2005.
DESCRIPT xiv, 274 p. ; 24 cm.
NOTE Includes bibliographical references (p. [257]-262) and index.
SUBJECT Proctor, Gregory, 1941-
SUBJECT Episcopal Church — Clergy.
ISBN/ISSN 067003326X (alk. paper)

Notes from the Dalai Lama’s talk, May 19th, 2013

I went to Louisville, KY on May 19th to hear the 14th Dalai Lama speak on “Engaging Compassion”, along with about 14,000 other people. These are my notes from that public talk. My comments are in parenthesis.

This is the century of dialogue. More and more people from all over the world and all religions are talking with each other.

America is the leader of the free world, so it is possible to lead the world in compassion.

It would be good if America could import its democracy style to China.

He is Buddhist, and he prays every day, but he accepts the limitation of prayer. Real effect comes through action.

To make the entire world better, start with yourself. Your actions make a difference.

If you have respect for other’s well-being, then there is no room for violence.

Peace starts within you, now. It creates a ripple effect.

When we are born, our survival is based on other’s care and affection. This continues to be true as we get older. The survival of humans and the planet is based also on care and affection from others.

If you have a healthy mind, you will have a healthy body. If you have a peaceful mind, you will show compassion. If you show peace towards others, you will be healthy. Showing compassion is a benefit to yourself as well as the world. Anger is self-destructive. The counter force to anger and hatred is tolerance.

Attachment leads to bias and a loss of objectivity.

It is possible to have faith in your tradition, and still have respect for all traditions.

On war – If one person kills another person, he is a murderer and goes to jail. If a soldier kills a thousand people, he is a hero. (Killing is killing, no matter who does it.)

The biggest moral and social problem is the gap between the rich and the poor. It is similar to the caste system in India.

There is a oneness within all human beings. We all have the right to be happy.

It is possible to oppose another person’s attitude but still love them.

Instead of anger, have pity. (It is more compassionate to feel sorrow at another person’s bad choice of behavior than to be angry.)

Have a genuine concern for other’s well-being.

Separate action from actor. Oppose the action, forgive the person. People are not what they do.

We must respect all of God’s creation. So environmentalism should be part of your faith.

There are over one billion non-believers, so we must find different ways to help them to understand how to have a “happy life and a happy body.”

In India, “secular” means “respect for all religions,” as well as “respect for non-believers.” (It is not negative like in America, where “secular” means “not religious.”)

Thomas Merton was a bridge between Buddhist and Christian monks. If you follow your own tradition, you will discover that we are all following the same practice.

Politically, His Holiness the Dalai Lama is Marxist. He believes that in capitalism, if profit is the goal, then humans suffer. Humans are more important than profit.

(Edit) – I’m adding some pictures to this, since I’ve figured out how.

On the way to the event –
dl6

Waiting outside to get in. We got there about an hour early. There was a long line past us.
dl7

Seen outside the auditorium.
dl8

Our seats were really really high up. The rest of the crowd has not arrived yet. We had time to get and eat our lunch there.
dl9

The Dalai Lama has arrived. The tiny red dot in the center is him.
dl1

dl2

On the Jumbotron.
dl 3
dl4

dl5

Recipe for a new church, in part.

Church isn’t a place or a building. It can’t be burned down or broken into. It can’t be venerated. It isn’t a pilgrimage site.
It would be nice if people can just meet at each other’s houses, rather than have a separate building to have to keep up and pay rent on. If a separate building is required, it would be awesome if it could be multi-faith. Muslims on Friday, Jews on Saturday, Christians on Sunday, and a joining of all three during the rest of the week. This seems like an efficient use of space. Or have it like a community center, where religious groups just happen to meet.

But really, the most important idea is this. Church is within us. Every person has within them the light of God. Every person was created by God. So “church” can be here, online, where we share ideas and encourage each other.

What does it matter if we have huge cathedrals that are filled every week if the people inside are not awake to their divine connection with God? Jesus tells us about the dangers of storing up treasures for ourselves here on earth. He tells us about the danger of losing your own soul, of forgetting our connection with God.

Church is a community of like minded people. The community is meant to build each other up. To encourage and support. To heal. To work together for the fixing of the world.

A church service is anything that helps further the goal of loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves. We are called to love God with all of our hearts and all our minds and all of our souls. We are called to love our neighbors in the same way.

Who are our neighbors? Everyone. We are called to be nice to everyone. Sure that is hard. Jesus tells us that if you love only the nice people, what’s the point? We need to love the mean people because they need it more. We are to treat others as we would like to be treated – not like we have been treated. We are commanded to serve people because we are Christian. It isn’t about us converting them to be Christian. It is about being a servant.

Each person needs to know that God is real, and active, and present. God isn’t a “past tense” God. God is right now.

Each person needs to be empowered to hear from God.

Each person needs to be encouraged to share what they have heard from God.

Prayers should be offered for everyone. This includes those who are gathered, those who are part of the community, all seekers, and all who are lost. Pray for nations and the world. Pray for everyone. The Buddhists have a nice way of praying that asks for all beings to be well.

Prayers need to be balanced. If there are petitions for healing, then there also need to be prayers of thankfulness.

People need to learn how to determine their spiritual gifts, and then how to apply them.

Everyone needs to have a volunteer activity in the community. Faith without works is dead.

This isn’t an ego trip. We aren’t special. We are workers in the field. God owns the field.

Whenever anything new is considered, it must be measured against the command to love. Does it show love?

Everyone is expected to read the Bible, especially the Gospels. It is helpful if they also read any religious text(s) from any other faith tradition they are called to.

We are not here to worship and serve anything or anyone other than the Creator.

It is essential that people do not confuse themselves with God. We are the creation, not the creator. We have within us the light of God. This does not make us God.

There is no leader. Everybody takes turns. This is a journey together.

We are all walking up this mountain together, and we are here to encourage each other and point out things along the way. This includes butterflies as well as rocks. (beauty as well as danger)

It may help to have certain items as part of the worship service. But these things must not be venerated. They are reminders or signifiers. They point toward the truth, but they are not the truth. These things could include candles, incense, icons, or bells for instance. We are corporal beings, and sometimes we need corporal ways to access the spirit.

The goal is for each person to awaken to their own divine nature, and then take that awareness out. Each person is the Buddha, each person is the Christ. Each person, once awakened then needs to make that nature visible through action. How do we bring healing to the world?

Love made visible. Social action.

Go have a walk afterwards, and then have lunch together. It is important to get exercise, and it is important to share food together. It is what Jesus did with the disciples, so it is what we should do. If the group goes out to eat, be sure to be nice to the waitress and tip well. So many Sunday patrons are really rude to the staff. “How you treat the least of these…” didn’t get into their heads. If you are rude to the staff, then you didn’t hear the message. You are reflecting badly on God and His followers.

How you act reflects on God. Watch yourself at all times. How would I act if this person were Jesus?

Encourage exercise – walking, yoga, water aerobics, whatever.
Encourage creativity – painting, embroidery, beading, writing, whatever.
Encourage prevention rather than cure.