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December 30, 2010

Preparing for the New Year

December 30, 2010

One more year is almost past. The year ahead lies before us like a newborn child, fresh with possibilities, its history not yet written. And as with a child we must be very careful, for its future will reflect either our wisdom or our lack thereof.

Spiritually, every moment is a new beginning. We enter into it with either an open heart or an unloving attitude, voting with our consciousness from a slate of infinite possibilities. Standing on the brink of a new year, let's feel the joy but also the sacred solemnity of our extraordinary power to design the future.

New Year's prayers carry more miraculous power than do New Year's resolutions. Forgiving ourselves and others for the casual unkindness of an unconscious moment; for time wasted in self-pity that could have been used to create something true and beautiful; for lack of gratitude for blessings and privileges. Dedicating ourselves to the purification of our hearts... seeking to stop the chronic indulgence of our weaknesses, and the power to embody our God-given strengths.

Lists can be helpful:

I ask forgiveness for....
I grant forgiveness for....
For I would carry none of that burden on my heart into the new year...

And another one:

I pray that this or that aspect of my personality be healed, transmuted, miraculously dissolved as I enter the new year...
I pray to embody the perfection of my divine potential, as a blessing on myself and others...

This is the moment of the year when we inhabit inwardly both sunset and sunrise. God created them both, but we ourselves decide how to paint them. Next year will bring whatever next year brings, but what we bring TO it will make all the difference. And the greatest thing we can bring to it is our love.

Posted by Marianne at 9:20 AM | Comments (20)

December 27, 2010

"Freedom," by Jonathan Franzen

Often I've thought that the times in which we live cry out for a Dostoyevsky or some such, a novelistic genius of the ages who could describe our generation and explain us to ourselves in a way that only fiction can do.

I've just finished reading Jonathan Franzen's new novel, FREEDOM, and I think he is exactly that. This is hardly some unique observation, as I'm one of innumerable readers and scores of reviewers who have pronounced the book astonishing.

I told my twenty-year daughter that I stayed awake until 6AM this morning finishing the book, unable to put it down. "Wow," she said. "If it's that good, I'll have to read it!" I told her that I thought she would like it -- but that if she waits thirty years, it will absolutely slay her. It is a book about the layers of accumulated experience that make up a modern lifespan -- including the tragedies that emerge from the maelstrom of our contemporary illusions -- and then, at last, what happens when forgiveness and mercy get the final say.

Like any great work of art, the book expands you on the inside by illuminating what's outside. "Bravo" doesn't even begin to cover it. Thank you, Jonathan Franzen. What a blessing you are to the world.

Posted by Marianne at 11:51 AM

December 24, 2010

Christmas and A Course in Miracles

It's Christmas Eve Day, and millions of people all over the world are pondering the meaning of the birth of Christ. For many, the birth of the historical Jesus is the main point of the story. For others, Christmas carries a meaning far beyond one man born two thousand years ago. Christmas in the deepest sense is the celebration of his birth inside us all.

He was a man yes, but also more than that. He is but one name for our shared identity, our oneness not only with each other but with God Himself. The Christ within Jesus was the Light that exists within us all; the difference between him and us, according to A Course in Miracles, is that he has fully actualized the potential that exists inside each one of us.

He is Internal Teacher, Transformer of Perception, Comforter, Elder Brother and Friend. Does Jesus save? Actually, he does. For the only thing to be saved from in this world is our own insanity. Every problem in the world is a result of our NOT having actualized our spiritual potential; he, as our Elder Brother, has been assigned the task of helping move us forward into the light of our own true being.

Some people today have difficulty with the word "Jesus;" it is acknowledged in the Course itself that "some bitter idols have been made of him who came only to be brother to the world." Yet Jesus was his name. Perhaps the name is less to be avoided and more to be reclaimed -- for the extraordinary light it carries and the profound wisdom it conveys. In ACIM, it says that the word "Jesus" spoken in any language automatically reminds the mind of our oneness with God.

If he's born anywhere, he is born in us. When we are angry, we can give birth to our gentleness. When we are sorrowful, we can give birth to joy. When we are at war, we can birth to peace. Jesus represents our highest hopes, for ourselves and for the world, because he represents who we were created to be, who we can be, and who in some miraculous way, we shall be. More than that, he can help us get there.

He is not the name on the door for everyone, but if his name is on your door, you know it. And for those who have seen his name on the door of their own hearts, Christmas is a wondrous phenomenon indeed. On this day, by celebrating him, we are celebrating the extraordinary possibility and ultimate certitude that we ourselves will see the light, we will embrace the light, and ultimately we will become the light.

And all will be well.

Merry Christmas, and love to all the world...

Posted by Marianne at 12:35 PM

December 22, 2010

How Things Happen in DC: Water for the World

Yesterday I was asked by Congressman John Conyers to submit a written statement for the Congressional Committee discussing the Water for the World Act:

"Thank you for this opportunity to add my support for the Water for the World Act.

My support stems from both my role as a mother and my role as a citizen.

I can no longer care only about the well-being of my own child; in order to truly care for the long term well-being of my own child, I must concern myself with the well-being of children everywhere. The world has become a very small place, and we are awakening to the philosophical truth that the destinies of all mankind are interconnected. A million children dying unnecessarily every year from water-borne illnesses is morally, as well as socially and politically, unacceptable.

As a citizen, I am concerned that the United States is always playing catch up, having to deal with terrible problems on the back-end that could have been prevented or at least ameliorated dramatically had they been dealt with earlier. Large groups of desperate people are a national security risk, as their desperation makes them far more vulnerable to ideological capture by those who truly wish us ill. A child who is befriended by us today is less likely to be a child who sees us as his or her enemy tomorrow. I strongly support any domestic or international legislation that deals with our problems on a causal level, and the Water for the World Act is a prime example. There are enough predictions of wars being fought over clean water in the decades ahead to make any serious and conscious citizen deeply committed to dealing with this problem now."

Despite the efforts of Rep. Conyers and a number of organizations this legislation will apparently not be taken up by the House this session.

Despite unanimous passage in the Senate, the bill encountered resistance from both Democrats and Republicans on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Republicans in particular expressed concern with the potential cost of the bill. There was apparently an attempt to negotiate a compromise that would have lowered the number of target beneficiaries in the bill, but that did not work out, and would have required the Senate to approve a new negotiated version of the bill.

This bill would only have been passed by the House on the suspension calendar, which is a special expedited voting procedure that requires a 2/3 majority - so it would need strong support from both Democrats and Republicans that did not materialize.

So there you have it. Sad, but illuminating.


Posted by Marianne at 12:47 PM

December 20, 2010

Spirituality and Politics

It's been a fascinating last few days, as I stayed close to my computer and posted news reports and action alerts on my facebook page about three issues that I'd think would touch anyone's heart: a bill in Congress to provide medical coverage for our 9/11 First Responders; another one that would help put an end to the forced marriage of children around the world; and still another to help provide clean drinking water to the billion people around the world who do not currently have it, resulting in the deaths of a million and a half children each year from water-borne illnesses.

Well you'd think I'd become an avowed Communist, given some of the reactions! The good news is that the majority of posts were positive and supportive of these humanitarian efforts. But it still astounds me that some people think that anything "political" is therefore "unspiritual," or that a spiritual teacher should not weigh in on political issues. I agree with Dwight Eisenhower's statement that "politics should be the part-time profession of every American." Check out my facebook postings to see what I'm talking about. It's all quite interesting, at least to me.

Posted by Marianne at 2:37 PM