Tag Archives: Spirituality

As We Approach 2012


January 1, 2012, is simply another day in the long string of days that have passed during the multiple millenia of our history.  Of course, this is true, but is there more to the story?  I suspect there is more.

As a civilization, we, along with our planetary brothers and sisters, are learning new things about ourselves.  We are discovering we have voices and hearts and minds that must be recognized and valued by those in power.  We are anticipating a major shift of spiritual consciousness.  We are trying to find our ways back toward intimacy.  Is this because the calendar reads, “2012?”  Is it solely because the Mayans said there would be a shift of some sort in November of the coming year?  Probably not.

The likeliest candidate for this awakening is that after tens of thousand of years, our evolution has insisted we grow.  In the same way as plants, in order to survive, become larger or smaller, depending on their environment, we are ready to raise the bar on our consciousness.  It’s simply time!

Everyone will have a different suggestion on how to do this.  Prayer, meditation, thought, action, or stillness.  My vote is for stillness of the mind.  I suggest we simply listen to the wind as my ancestors might have said.  I call it, “Openly Sensing Life.”

Have you ever had a sudden distraction and thought, “Oh!  I need to call so-and-so immediately.”  You had no reason to think that thought, but when you called, you realized that person needed you in some way.  You intuitively responded to that voice within.  Most parents can share examples of this happening about their children more than once.  You openly sensed your Life with a capital “L.”  I suspect that is where we find ourselves at this point.  We are anxious and feeling fidgety about nothing at all; but is it about nothing at all?

Every single one of us is capable of listening and openly sensing life.  It requires us to set aside what we so righteously “know.”  It requires us to be humble in those moments when we open ourselves to that life sensation.  It requires us to set aside our historical and cultural knowledge so that we may be surprised by what we hear.  It requires us to breathe peacefully, allowing all the troubles of our lives with the lower-case “l” to dissipate if only for those few minutes.

My suggestion is that this action is not just for one’s own well-being.  It is for the global well-being also.  When we open ourselves to the forthcoming message from within, we are better able to receive that message.  It may help guide us to the growth we seem so ready to embrace.

Some will call this listening for the voice of God.  Some will say it is the vibration of global consciousness.  People will have many things to call this process.  It doesn’t matter how you name it as long as you participate.  When a majority of us open ourselves to this voice, we will likely hear how we fit into this important process of growth, and may even discover how we can become more actively involved in this shift.

Of course, there will be people who reply with, “Phooey!”

That’s fine.  You who choose not to take part are certainly entitled to express your free will anyway you want.  Those who do participate will find answers to questions we may never have known were there.  We may find new ways to love and new ways to welcome others into the process.

However one chooses to look at this process, know that it is happening with or without him or her.  We will see these changes happen whether we drag our feet, join hands with others who encourage this process, or simply stand by and watch.

So as we approach 2012, listen to what the wind tells you, and as you do, I wish you a happy, abundant, and productive New Year, full of unity, good health, and joy.

The Voice That Whispers In My Ear


All yesterday afternoon, I smelled something that had the aroma of a dead mouse.  Considering we live a quarter mile from an expanse of fields, it is common for us to hear and even see mice scampering in our house and around our yard.  Sometimes, our traps catch them.  We then follow our noses to the carcasses, and we have to take them outside to the garbage.  This time, however, was different.

The smell permeated the house and I could not pinpoint the source of the malodorous stench. At about 9:30 PM, watching television, something suddenly said, “Go check the stove.”  Without thinking I got up, and there on the far right face of the stove was one knob turned slightly to the left.  The gas had been on all afternoon in a house with two smokers.  Thankfully, we don’t smoke in the house.  Thankfully, we regularly keep the doors open to get cross-ventilation and to let Diego, our dog, wander in and out.  Thankfully, there was not enough gas escaping through the patio door to cause an explosion when we lit a cigarette on the lanai.  Thankfully, we hadn’t closed up the house for bed yet to go to sleep.  Thankfully, the three of us didn’t die last night.

What inspired me to check the stove?  Not one time during the day had I even considered that what I smelled was gas.  David had stopped smelling it completely, which is scary enough to think about. The truth is that if I had not gotten up to check in the kitchen, we could have just as easily closed the patio and bedroom doors to the outside, turned off the lights, and slept with the gas filling our house all night long. We have great neighbors, so I know that when they hadn’t heard or seen us for a couple of days, they would have called the police.  Likely, had the cell phone or home phone rung, they wouldn’t have had a question as to where we were; our house may have gone up like a nuclear explosion.  David, Diego, and I would have been nothing but a memory.

As often happens to many of us, there was a wee voice that whispered in my ear that pushed the alarm button and sent me to the right place to avoid tragedy.  Many parents can relate the experience of “knowing something is wrong with my child.”  The experiences have no basis in knowledge, though.  They are our intuitive leaps that keep us connected to our loved ones.  Perhaps, they are the voices of those who have left our planet who act as our guardian angels protecting us, whispering to us to keep us safe.  In this case, it feels like my mother guided me to get out of my comfortable bed to find the source of danger.  Her voice alone would get me to do what I did not want to otherwise do.

Some may say that I am being melodramatic in the “what if” contemplation of yesterday’s alternative events.  They may be right; however, we read about events just like this in the news.  Could this morning have been very different for our family and friends?

The voices we hear, whether we believe that they are our family members from beyond the grave, our astute intuition, or simply our active imagination, are often the source of life-changing opportunities to alter the future.  This was just such an example.  Once again, I have an opportunity to express my gratitude for another day of loving and living, and that my family continues to be well.  I have learned over the years to listen to that small voice and yesterday was a testament to that fact.  Without reckoning the reasonability of my actions, I got up to check the stove, and my family is now alive to tell the story.

Once, 30 years ago, my former wife was sleeping in the living room with my children, taking a nap in the middle of a hot day with the air conditioning running.  I arrived home from work to an horrific smell in the house.  For some reason, I immediately recognized the smell as gas.  I went to the kitchen, turned off the stove, and revived my wife and children.  They had likely passed out from the gas since my ex-wife has no sense of smell.  They awoke feeling “weird.”  Within a few weeks, we had completely changed over to all electric appliances.

I believe everything is for a reason, even if it is simply the reason we give it.  The purpose I see in this event reminds me that I am still connected with those I love who have gone before me to find their place in the larger Universal order.  I recall that I must remain focused on my journey here to serve those who need me.  Finally, I must live in gratitude to God for my life, always looking forward, because without warning, it could all just end.

Which Door?


Since I was a young boy, I have always questioned my faith.  I was reared Roman Catholic, playing the organ and singing in the choir, and devoutly serving as an altar boy.  I always loved my Catholicism; however, I also wondered what else was out there.  I innately knew there were many doors available, and that others chose some of the myriad doors.  This awareness was enhanced by my father who was a former Catholic and thereafter an agnostic.  My challenge is that I am finding it increasingly difficult to hear people speak of their traditions as exclusively correct, not just for them, but for others as well.

In the 1960s, my mother taught me that other religions were not the right ones for us.  How she knew that, I never fully understood until I was older and realized that this was what the church taught us to believe.  Even as I became an adult and realized that there was no room for me as I was, in my fullness as a whole human being, I never stopped loving the church; I just could not go back. Today, we are told that as gay people, we can participate in the church, but that we must confess our sins and promise to abstain from the activities with those we love specified by the church. Certainly, that is not consistent with what I know of God, so I had to move forward in my search.

Christianity is the predominate overarching faith in the United States.  That is not true in other regions such as Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the Near East.  They believe in other traditions that, to them, are just as valid as Christianity is to the majority of Americans.  In fact, there are more people worldwide who believe in their various Eastern and folk religions than believe in Judaism, the founding tradition of the Abrahamic religions, including Christianity and Islam, the largest groups of faith on the planet [1].  Some researchers indicate that Islam has overtaken Catholicism as the number one specific religion in the world [2].

I have meandered my way through Eastern religions, New Age philosophies, ancient religions, native traditions, and other belief systems.  I have read, discussed, meditated, and prayed my way to this moment.  All I know for certain is that there is a Greater Spirit, one that has many, many names. This spirit connects us all in love and unity.  I believe that sin and hell do not exist.  I believe that we live in the constant light of God.  I believe our fears cause us to choose to turn our backs on the light; to ignore that radiance eternally emanating through the door before, during, and after this human existence.  This is why we sometimes perceive evil and live in the shadows.  I believe that all paths lead to God, because God has given us every opportunity to remember who we truly are in unity with the Universe. We learn by example and we learn by contrast.  I believe we have many teachers and that all our teachers are sent from God, even the ones that scare us the most.  Perhaps, the ones that scare us or bring up anger in us are our best teachers, because like pain from an injury, they call us to focus on where our fears exist.

These beliefs are mine and mine alone.  I do not expect anyone else, let alone everyone else, to believe what I believe.  If others condemn me for my faith, they can contemplate why they do so. That is not my job.  If others feel joy or growth through my awareness of my faith, all the better.  I have accepted that I will always question the structure of my faith, but I suspect that my faith itself will be everlasting.

Perhaps in my questioning, I have walked through the door that was meant for me, the door of a seeker of knowledge and wisdom.  I believe everyone has a job to do on this planet, and one of my jobs is to ask questions out loud.  I can’t possibly have the answers for anyone else, but that is fine with me because I am not walking another person’s path.  I can only find my peace, my truth, and my unity with others in my own way, celebrating others’ light along the way.  To me, that is consistent with my faith and the God I believe in.

So, I offer my little prayer of thanksgiving to those who have been my teachers, friends and challengers alike, for they have given me opportunities to find happiness.  I am grateful to not tolerate, but celebrate the paths of my brothers- and sisters-in-light.  I continue to welcome new thought, new wisdom into my life, brought by generous souls, whether they are aware of the gifts they bring or not.  I remain aware that I still have an inconceivably long journey ahead of me to understand God. These are the gifts I receive from God for which I am so very thankful.  For those who insist on others believing as they do, I ask you this: How did you choose your door?

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[1] Wikipedia (2011) “Major Religious Groups” Wikipedia. Retrieved July 15, 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_religious_groups

[2] Rizzo, Allesandra (2008, March 31) “Muslims ‘overtake’ Catholics, become world’s largest religion.” National Geographic. Retrieved July 15, 2011 from  http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/03/080331-AP-islam-largest.html

January 1, 2011


As we approach the new year of 2011, I can’t help but remember my father’s observation as a pharmacist in the 1980s.  He said, “We’ve had more changes in the last 50 years in medicine than in all the years prior.”  Of course, the changes that transpired in those immediately previous 50 years emerged from the foundation of work by generations of scientists.  After all, the first concocted antibiotic wasn’t developed until sulfanilamide and penicillin in the early part of the 20th century.   As I contemplate the last 100 years, inspired by the recent loss of my great-uncle Gene at 103, I took a gander at what he had seen in his lifetime.

In the last 10 decades, we’ve seen the Nobel Prize for physics go to Madame Marie Curie (France) for the discovery of the elements, radium and polonium in 1911.  50 years later, in 1961,  this same prize was awarded to Robert Hofstadtler (United States) for his determination of the shape and size of atomic nuclei.  A mere 10 years ago, in 2001, the award went to Wolfgang Ketterle (Germany), Eric A. Cornell, and Carl E. Wieman (United States), for discovering a new state of matter, the Bose-Einstein condensate [1].  Imagine!  A new state of matter, theorized by Albert Einstein, but not proved until this group did so.  This year, we will see new weights established for the periodic table.  We have seen the extinction of animals and diseases and the rise of others.

As we enter 2011, diving into the year 5772 in the Hebrew calendar, 4708 in the Chinese calendar, 1432 in the Islamic calendar, or the Mayan long count of 12.19.18.0.0, our lives have been changed dramatically by many events.  We have seen wars and conflicts in Europe, Asia, South America, the Middle East, and Afghanistan, to name a few.   The Berlin Wall has been built and destroyed.  Cultural revolutions have fulmugated around the world.  We have witnessed the New Deal, the Civil Rights Movement, and the election of an African-American president of the United States.  

We have seen unfathomable growth and challenges in the last century including the change in perception between the First World War when little was thought about homosexuals at all to the current day when homosexuals will be allowed to openly serve in the military.   We have moved from a time when a Black person couldn’t marry a White person to today when gays are marrying in some states in the U.S.  The economy has seen boons and busts throughout the century including the Great Depression in the 1930s.  Here are some other interesting tidbits:

Year     Fed. Spending [2]   Fed. Debt [2]  Postage [3]  UI Rate [4]

                   (In billions)             (In billions)

1911          $           .69               $           0.o          $ .02              6.7%

1961                  97.72                        292.6             .04               5.5%

2001            1,864.00                   5,807.o              .34               4.8%

2011            3,833.90                    1,266.7              .46               9.6%

I suppose with all this reminiscing about our past, the next logical step would be to imagine what will be in our future.  I’d rather not.  Not because I think things will be worse, but because it won’t serve any purpose.  The real question is, where are we now? 

On a personal level, I have lost my entire adopted family of origin, but I have found my family of birth.  I have encountered family members from seven generations born between 1881 and 2003.  I’ve changed careers from working in a pharmacy in the 1970s to being a music educator  today.  I’ve had the pleasure to see my husband, children, and grandchildren all working toward growing their successes.  I have returned to school to complete my education.  If my family is a microcosm of America, which it may be, then one can extrapolate that although things have been tough, we have our eyes on making things better.  We are stepping back to get a good view of where we are, and taking steps to improve our situation. 

January 1, 2011, is, I suspect, a preparatory time toward a major shift in our lives.  We, as a family and as a country, are readying ourselves for a giant leap forward.  What shape that will take, I don’t know.  We are talking about our spirits.  We are valuing our children in a more vibrant way.  We are demanding a better education for them.  We are begging for art and beauty.  We are striving for unity.  These are all good things that I believe will make us stronger, wiser, and more solid as a national and world community. 

I welcome the coming new year with everything it has to bring.  Gratitude permeates every fiber of my being as I look forward to the forthcoming 365 days.   So, in that gratitude, I say in anticipation of the coming celebration, Happy New Year and welcome to 2011!

_____________________________

References

 [1] Infoplease.com (2010) List of Nobel Prize winners for Physics.  Retrieved from  http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0105785.html

 [2] USGovernmentSpending.com (2010) [Data] Retrieved fromhttp://www.usgovernmentspending.com/year2011_0.html

[3] U.S. Postal Service (2010) News Release:  New Rates Retrieved from  http://www.usps.com/communications/newsroom/2010/pr10_064.htm

[4] Forcasts.org (2010) Unemployment figures (Data) Retrieved from http://www.forecasts.org/unemploy.htm

(2010) “Happy New Year 2011” [Photograph] Retrieved from http://win7dl.com

(2010) “Human Arrow” [Photograph]. Retrieved from http://ypg-prioryroad.com

(2010) “Marie Curie” [Photograph]. Retrieved from http://reich-chemistry.wikispaces.com

Songs of Winter, Songs of the Heart


When it is cold, people spend more time indoors.  As they gather, music seems to play a vital role in their quiet time, celebrations, and family cultures.  As Chanukah has passed and Christmas approaches, I’ve thought about this quite a bit.   My question is, why is music so important to many of us at this time of year?

Higher level animals make sounds as part of their communication systems.   These emanations are warnings, calls to their families and potential mates, and serve as locators.  Human beings developed the ability to create organized sounds through speech, and the rhythms became an important part of their communication process as well.  There must have been something intensely satisfying to the first humanoids to insist on recreating these sounds. 

Take a moment to close your eyes.  Breathe deeply.  Now, hum a little bit.  Do you feel it rumble in your chest, right near your heart?  Now, hum your favorite song for a few bars.  Are you transported to a higher level of happiness as you do this?  Most of us are.  These sounds surround our heart, fill our chests, and heighten our minds awareness.  They cause our bodies to produce a chemical reaction that gives us pleasure.

When we join together to sing or listen to music, the collective happiness grows exponentially.  Our voices, hearts, and ears are working together to unite us and remind us of the precious gifts we have.  If we do the same things we did earlier, only together, we will see how much better it can be.  Take someone you love, hold them, close your eyes, and hum a song you like together.  The intimacy is intense; the joy fulfilling. 

During the holidays, we raise our voices together in celebration of God’s promise and His gifts.  As the Festival of Lights shows us, we are sustained here on Earth through the miracles of resources we never imagined possible.  In Christmas, we find the birth of unimaginable love.   In one another, we are reminded of the same gifts.

So, this holiday season, join together to sing or listen to music.  Remember the hum of your heart and spirit as the music envelopes you.  May God bless you and keep you and your loved ones happy and safe this holiday season and throughout the coming new year.

Last Few Minutes of the Game


Texas Longhorn receiver, Quan Cosby in last seconds of the game.Whenever we see a sporting event or theatrical production, the last few minutes of the experience are so powerful.  The teams are battling for supremecy, the last push is thrashed for the big win, or the 11:oo o’clock song is sung.  It’s the finale, so everyone expects things to be big, dramatic, and utterly memorable.

Life is like that, too.  When we are closing in on the final days or minutes of our lives, our life experiences become phenomenally intense.

In the month preceeding my father’s suicide, he began scurrying all over California, trying to find a place to call home where he felt safe.  His mental illness and paranoia was taking over and we, as his family, had to make decisions that would protect him and those around him, including my mother.  There were battles and accusations, pleas and vitriol spewed everywhere as we tried to resolve these issues.

Ultimately, Dad decided how things were going to go and killed himself  in the back of his truck using carbon monoxide from the exhaust pipe.

When Mama was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer six years later, she seemed fairly resigned to her fate.  She was, after all, 83 years old and ready to be with my father. 

The strange thing is that the night before she died, she grew very impatient and angry.  She wasn’t able to communicate because her lungs had filled up with fluid from the cancer and she was incredibly weak because she hadn’t be able to eat for four weeks.  I gave her some medication to calm her down and she went to sleep.  I will never know what it was she was trying to communicate because she died during the night.

When my son and grandbaby were lost to miscarriages, the intensity was overwhelming for everyone.  With my son, my then-girlfriend and I were 15 years old, far too young to be parents.  With my grandchild, my daughter’s grandmother had died only days before.  In both instances, the turmoil surrounding the pregnancies carried dynamics that these precious children couldn’t bear. 

Even my former mother-in-law asked a fascinating question as she lie dying in her hospital bed.  She and I were unusually close, considering that my ex-wife and I had been divorced for 22 years.  She asked, “Jim, what do you think it’s like after we die?”

This amazingly strong woman was 71 years old and was asking me this question.  It was a profoundly powerful moment of intimacy between us. 

“I think that there is an afterlife and it is whatever we believe it will be.  I believe it will be loving and joyful if that’s where our hearts are.  It will be cold and lonely if that’s how we view our lives.”

“How do we know when we’re going to die?” she queried.

“When we are free from fear and ready.” I responded.

As she pondered what I had said, I saw her looking around her hospital room into the faces of her loving daughters and granddaughters. 

“I’m ready.  Let’s pray.” she said.  So, we all joined hands and began praying out loud.  Then, the room grew silent.  After nearly ten minutes, Mother-in-law-dearest, which is what I always called her, opened her eyes.

“I’m still here?”  We all broke out into ribald laughter.

The next morning, quietly and peacefully, she joined those who had gone before her.

One of my former students, who lost her life at 21 years old in an automobile accident, knew at her inner most level, if not consciously, that she was not long for this lifestream.  Her poetry, music, and prayers all were clear pictures of that truth.  We all missed the messages because we either weren’t ready to hear them or we weren’t supposed to hear them.  The preparation experience apparently was for her alone.

There are times when we do see it coming. 

When my brother, my family, and I were sitting around the table eating the day my mother died, after a discussion about his alcoholism and desire to be alone, my family and I knew that David would be gone within the year.  Sadly, it only took him four months to transition into his new existence.  The signs were there.  His awareness was there.  He was clearly ready.  We were simply able to see it.  Even with that clarity, there was nothing we could do to prevent him dying from his alcoholism.

Life is intense and full of meaning.  Death is no different. 

Our fears and our joys are amplified as we approach our final time.  It’s remarkable how many times one has heard, “He said he loved me in a way that was so much more intimate the night before he died.”   There had been no warning or omen.  There had been no disease or chronic illness.  He was just aware at his spiritual core that he had to say good-bye and mean it.

As I watched my cousin deal with his own demise this week, I realized that his battle has only begun, although it is likely to last only a few more weeks.  Like my mother, his aunt, he is dying of pancreatic cancer.  He is only 50 years old.

His children and girlfriend are also trying to make sense of what makes no sense at all. 

I hope they all find peace in this process and can say good-bye in a loving, healthy way, as a unified family.  It will make a difference to all of them, my cousin included. 

I’ve experienced 46 deaths of people close to me in my lifetime.  Each of their lives have changed who I am.  They have made a difference.  My cousin has made a difference in my life.  The weight of their absence is great.  The silence of their voices nearly painful.  Yet, the love they’ve given and the love they’ve let me share is what I hold onto now.  It’s all I have left.

Now, as your shot clock winds down, as the last few pages of your score are sung, I wish you “Good journey!” Joe.  Bravo, Cousin, for a life fully lived.  I love you.  I will miss you.  Thank you for changing my life with your love.

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A New Message from the Roman Catholic Church?


Today was a remarkable day for me at the most personal level. 

St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church

First, I performed music for the first time in a long, long time.  A friend of mine called me two days ago in a panic and asked if I would play the piano for her mother-in-law’s funeral.  As a friend and an ordained minister, it was impossible to say no to her.   The truth is, with returning to college, assisting a former student of mine with his senior project, and auditions for a musical, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed at the thought of adding even one more, short-term project.

As with all things in my life, now that I’m on the other side of today, I couldn’t be happier to have had the experience.   I sang and played piano better than I have for years.  As the most critical person of my own skills, I was surprised to be happy with my music.

The most important part of the day was that I heard a homily by Monsignor Dan Madigan, the parish priest from St. Joseph’s Parish in Clarksburg, California, who officiated the funeral mass.  His Irish brogue was soft and thoughtful.  He spoke as though he was speaking to each person individually.  With his history as a man of social justice, having founded the Sacramento Food Bank in the mid-1980’s, his words today had an especially profound effect on me.

During the homily, he discussed the fact that Jesus had once said that there were too many rules and that they burdened the every day people.  He said that faith should be simple and a benefit to the people, not a heavy weight on their shoulders. 

As he was speaking, I had to fight back the tears.   Here was this Catholic priest, in his vestments, standing on an altar speaking about the need for a simple faith.   It was so moving.

The church where the funeral was held was my former parish from 1976 to 2004.  It was the parish that helped me decide to leave my Roman Catholic tradition.

In the early 1980’s, I had gone to confession, as was the weekly requirement at the time.  I offered the truth of what my church said were my sins.  I was a gay man who had slept with another man.   The eldery, Italian priest proceeded to lambast me with horrific statements of how I was committing an abomination to God and that I would land in hell for my wicked ways.  

On that day, I realized I could not be a part of a church that would talk with a parishoner in that way.  I could no longer be told that I would go to hell for who I was.  I had no choice but to leave the church I so dearly loved.  Although I was correct in doing so, it has left a deep sadness in my heart all these years.  I miss my church and my tradition.

As I watch women having children they cannot afford, religious clergy injuring children through their illness of pedophilia, and women being denied a rightful place as ministers in this enormous church, I know I made the right decision.   I realize, too, that the elderly priest from so very long ago had no right to stand in such cruel judgement of my life when he certainly must have known people who had committed terrible atrocities, which is much different than one man loving another man.

Monsignor Dan MadiganThen, today, I am transported back to that same church where I was so hurt, and floating on the brogue of an elderly priest, I am healed from that hurt.  Faith should be simple.  It’s what I’ve believed for decades, and to hear it espoused here was truly miraculous. 

I still cannot return to my home church as a devout Catholic, but at least now I know that the church has people in it who understand about true faith, and that it is different than structured beliefs. 

Somehow, I am more at peace.

Starving People Like Glenn Beck


I was reading an article written by Jim Wallis in the Huffington Post, who was discussing comments made by Glenn Beck about social justice.

Communities standing together

In every tradition and village, there is a supportive pattern of community in which our neighbors will come to our aid when times get tough for us.  We’ve all see it a hundred times.  Apparently, Glenn Beck believes we should be sure to limit our care for others in fear that we will slip into a Socialist / Communist / Marxist slide where there will be a mass redistribution of wealth.  He says, as well, that everyone is misinterpreting the Bible to support this horrific slippery slope.

Mr. Beck’s comments made me think of a mongrel dog I once saw.  This dog had been running the streets of my hometown for, seemingly, a long time, and because he was mean, no one wanted to be near him.  Soon, he became horribly thin and clearly was about to die.

One brave soul bought some dog food and put it outside his fence for this mangy animal.  As the dog was eating, if the kind man stepped anywhere near the food, the dog would growl and bare his teeth, threatening the kind man.   The dog did not want to lose one morsel of his food.  I’m certain he would have mauled anyone who attempted to take it away from him.

Under Mr. Beck’s fine suits and tanned appearance, is a snarling dog who is starving, fighting to keep his food.  This tragic character has donned the costume of a wealthy man who is simply concerned for those wealthy people around him who, by all rights, should maintain what they have certainly earned.  Sadly, I would doubt that it is anyone other than Mr. Beck himself whom he is trying to protect.

Angry, emotionally ugly little men like Mr. Beck will suffer with his spiritual poverty for his whole life.  He will bite the hands that feed him and protect what he feels is his.  It’s really very sad. 

There are those in the media and at their kitchen tables who look on Mr. Beck with utter disdain.  I suggest we should look on him with compassion for experiencing what must be going on inside of him, including poverty, loneliness, ignorance, and a deep-rooted fear of everything and everyone around him. 

Glenn Beck

His piteous disability is probably not even his fault.  All he knows is to protect that injured child inside. 

So, I for one, will remember Mr. Beck in my prayers and hope for his healing and growth into a healthy, adult human being.  There is nothing any of us can do to stop him from speaking and writing so ignorantly.  Those rights are guaranteed in our Constitution. 

There is nothing we can do to prevent him from reinjuring himself by pouring his vitriol all over his own spirit time and time again, for certainly his spew cannot affect anyone other than himself.  We can only love him compassionately and hope that through our sense of social justice, he will finally find joy and peace.

God bless you, Mr. Beck.  Like all of us, you need it.

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Alpha Inventions Ranking

Our Indian Question


Ohlone Indian Ceremonial Dance at Mission San Jose - 1806.

Over the last several years, my cousin, Catherine, and I have been searching for the details of our ancestry in the Herrera line.  It’s been a fascinating journey that has taken us back to the early 1850’s from San Francisco to New Almaden.  Not unlike many who are searching in that region, our line stops dead in its tracks before 1850.

One has to question why?  Our family lines have been identified in all the places where the American Indian group, the Ohlone, has been centered.  Some of our family have been able to identify other Indian groups in their lineage, apart from our common heritage. 

All indications are that we, at some level, have come from an Indian wellspring.  The problem is that we can’t prove it.  There simply is no paper.  In the missing documents is an acrid irony.  As a people who listened to the wind and the earth for our answers, we have become anglicized enough to believe that we need that documentation.  The contradiction of our resonant, internal knowing and our contemporary need for empirical proof are in an horrific battle as we continue our search.

To see the faces of our ancestors, though, one would not question our Indian heritage.  Our ruddy brown skin, our short, thick features.  Our beautiful black hair.  Our ancient eyes.  It’s there in our genes.  I have to wonder, if when we receive our genetic information from the researcher in Santa Barbara who is doing my DNA test, whether we will be genetically linked to the Ohlone, and if so, if we can match paperwork to our heritage.

So many Indians were killed during that time.  Others chose not to participate in the mission system.  If we are such a family, we may never have the answers.  The question could be, forever more, left hanging over our collective heads. 

As an amateur genealogist, will that be enough for me?  Of course not.  I want to close the circle.  I want to know the names.  I was to see the faces, if it’s at all possible. 

Some documents have suggested that part of our family came from Sonora, Mexico.  Perhaps part of our family did; however, if so, then why can we not find our church records like so many others can do.  Not one branch of our family is identifiable in those records thus far.  Every time we make a new discovery, it always lands in the Santa Clara Valley.  What should we get from that message?

I suppose that is our Indian question to which the answers may only ever be known by our ancestors.

Singing in the Sacramento Valley


"Sing Softly" by James C. Glica-Hernandez 2006

After years of teaching voice privately or in a school setting, I’m taking my lessons on the road, as it were.

I’ve been joyfully affiliated with Woodland Opera House for twelve years and finally, I’m beginning vocal classes there.  It’s exciting to have yet another part of my life experience melded with this 100-plus-year-old theatre. 

As I’ve been preparing for my classes, I’ve been wondering why some people are afraid to sing.  Could it be because as the breath of sound begins, it resonates with one’s heart?  As this intimate expression of our feelings and art exits our bodies, it doesn’t stop until it finds its way to another’s heart.  I suppose to some, this might be fear-inducing; however, not to me.

This truth is simultaneously intimate and grand. 

The fear that we may feel is like a pain when we’ve been injured.  They are both simply messages to our brains that we have work to do to make things right.  Because fear and creativity cannot co-exist, we know that once we get beyond that fear, we have every opportunity to grow creatively and emotionally, and some would say, spiritually, through our art.

Woodland Opera House

If you are interested in participating or simply want more information check out my Facebook page for these lessons, James Glica-Hernandez @ Woodland Opera House.

Group lessons are on Thursdays at 6:00 PM.

Individual lessons are on Saturdays between 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM.

I also teach privately from my home in the West Natomas area of Sacramento, California on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

For more information, call me, James Glica-Hernandez, at (916) 201-1168, or e-mail me at JCGlicaHernandez@gmail.com, for more information.  Feel free to visit my webpage at SacramentoVocalMusic.com.

I look forward to hearing your voice.

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