My Open Letter to the DNC

 

Today I received yet another email from the DNC — one of hundreds a month that flood my inbox with all manner of messaging. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a liberal Christian Democrat independent voting my conscience since turning 18 in 1980, when I proudly voted for who is arguably the greatest American leader of the 20th century, President Jimmy Carter. In the old traditional American way, I support who I see as the best candidate.

I, too, heard the giant sucking sound and supported and organized for H. Ross Perot in 1992. I even wrote him a letter which he got and read aloud to a crowd in Delaware. Which was pretty amazing. And I designed a bumper sticker which he used that day on his podium.

Likewise I was moved by the character of then-Senator Barack Obama. Who turned out the only candidate I supported in 39 years who won.

In all cases, I voted with my heart AND my head, in allegiance to my basic principles of leadership: humility, heart, brains, vision, and spine. These are the pillars of leadership I value.

So today I couldn’t help but write the following reply to the Democratic National Committee. Because I am pretty sure my email reply will go nowhere, I decided to publish it here, on my nearly secret blog. This probably won’t go anywhere either, but I’ll feel better making it an Open Letter to the DNC.

The DNC’s email subject line:

SADLY: BOLD Democrats 2018

Laurel A — are you reading our emails???

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Here’s my reply:

______________

Honestly?! No!

I tend to vote for your candidates, mostly, but your email campaigns—they are atrocious.

Go study Law of Attraction (search YouTube Abraham Hicks and study at least a years worth of content, fast) and hire better copywriters! Hire me!

Look at that subject line: SADLY: BOLD

Good grief that is the WORST!

Those two words cancel each other out. No energy. Dead. Flat. No momentum. One cannot be SAD and be BOLD at the same time!! Hello??!!

Your campaign needs copywriters trained in drect response marketing and law of attraction. You need to stop saying a negative word about anyone or anything. People are looking for HOPE not more fear!! The DNC needs a heart-centered law-of-attraction-based PR campaign that uplifts and inspires.

Why the heck don’t you hire Barack and Michelle Obama?? Remember 2008, and his Canpaign for Change that ignited the hearts of millions?

I was a City Leader in a red county, outnumbered 4 to 1, but because of our hearts, we exceeded vote goals here 25%.

You, DNC, show all the time you don’t have a heart. Just like Hillary, you aren’t listening to the people.

You idiots were so stupid you pushed Hillary unfairly ahead of Bernie. You failed to cry foul in 11 states that tampered with the primary vote. And so did your candidate. Tsk tsk tsk. With that idiot move, you PROVED yourself just as bad as the GOP — invisible and heartless, ruthless, not listening, not seeing the people, disrespecting not only us, the voters, but our entire system of government. You got right down there in the muck, became like your enemy. Not feeling our hearts. You showed your colors; You are not to be trusted.

And in that, you handed the election to Trump.

I probably just wasted my time writing all this because you probably set up your DNC emails not to be responded to.

Like there is anyone there, actually reading, caring, and responding.

You guys mail out questionnaires all the time, too, that have only one purpose: to raise money. Just like the GOP.

—————-

So there. That’s it. I emailed my reply. By their lack of response, DNC proves it is as disconnected as always. Dragged down by bad leaders, just like the GOP.

Whoever is in charge, hire the guy who WON big in 2008, who is a professional organizer, who can attract the cream of the crop talent: artists, writers, entrepreneurs, and independents like me, to put our shoulders to it, and vote with our heart and our feet. Who will get behind today’s new crop of leaders who are humble, who have a heart, and brains, and spine, and backbone.

Honor, treasure, and shower love upon our beloved elder, President Jimmy Carter! Honor all the good he and his wife has done with his life! He is a living model of every good American value. HE is what we want our children to become. Not THEIR guys!

And for God’s sake, DNC, fess up! Publicly acknowledge the malfeasance, investigate to find all responsible, and apologize for the vote tampering. It is not too late! NOW is the time for confession! Before the next election! Why should we EVER trust you again if you don’t clear that slate?

We’re not stupid, you know. Just hurting.

And you: wise up, would you? Anyone is insane if they keep doing the same things over and over again, expecting different results. If they don’t learn from mistakes. If they don’t let go of grievances.

Don’t be insane. Lord knows, we’ve got enough insanity.

Humility. Heart. Brains. Vision. Spine. Get some. Fast.

Yes, I read your email, DNC. More importantly, did you read mine?

Laurel A. Kashinn

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Laurel Kashinn is a Certified Ghostwriter, Wellness Advocate with doTERRA, author, mother, wife, Orthodox Christian, amd a student of the Desert Fathers, Law of Attraction, and A Course in Miracles. She helps people find their authentic voice and wellness at WriteStuffResources.com and BeeJoyful.org.

Ten outside-the-box campaign reform ideas

President-elect Trump is outside the box in just about every thing he does. Good, bad, or horrendous, the fact is, we’re living in unprecedented times. It’s time we all get out of our respective boxes and think very differently. With a mis-leader who campaigned on breaking rules, we need lots of brainstorms to find outside-the-box responses and solutions. I’d like to start with campaign reform ideas. Not just campaign finance reform– but the entire campaign process.
think_outside_the_box1
First, the costs. It’s not just global temperatures setting record highs in 2016. As of two weeks post election, the 2016 presidential campaign season is estimated to have cost in the neighborhood of  $6.6 billion.  Since corporations were symbolically gifted with personhood by our Supreme Court, campaign spending has skyrocketed faster and higher than the cost of healthcare, GDP, and income, as Time Magazine reported. Unprecedented in American history.

http://time.com/3534117/the-incredible-rise-in-campaign-spending/

Courtesy, Time Magazine.

From the letter to the Spirit of the Law

Inside the box, for years conventional wisdom has been to focus has been on the letter of the law. For a change, let’s look instead at the spirit of the law—it’s overall purpose and intent.
The founders of the United States designed a system to prevent corruption specifically by preventing consolidation of power. Lots of people today are saying we should eliminate the electoral college. But actually, what happened this year is the result of decades of elimination of checks and balances on power, moving us closer to a true democracy, and a direct election. A hundred years ago, there were no primaries. If we eliminate the electoral college now, that will truly be the end of our democracy and morph straight into tyranny, just as Plato predicted. If its not already too late. But that’s another discussion.

The intention–the spirit of our U.S. election process–was to serve as a means of sourcing, vetting, and then electing good, qualified candidates for leadership. That’s what an election in a representative democracy is supposed to do. I’m certainly not saying it’s doing that now. Nor has it in years. But would you not agree – that is supposed to be the function and purpose of our democratic process? In non-Democratic societies, led by dictators, oligarchs, or Communists, where the voice of the people is suppressed, elections are purely a sham, just for show. And certainly that’s what the box we’re in these days is looking more and more like.
But it certainly is not what the Founders intended for us. The founders intended to unite the people, and keep us united, for generations.

Thinking now through the lens of the spirit of finding good, qualified candidates, and unity, as in the UNITED States of America, let’s superimpose a new paradigm onto our country. Just for this brainstorming session, let’s replace divisive terms like politics and politicians Instead of “with or against,” and “us versus them,” let’s use the “with” and the “us.” Let’s imagine we’re all one big family. Family members fight. Brothers and sisters argue. Sometimes there might be a feud, that maybe lasts a few years. But families always stick together in the end. Unless they are super dysfunctional. But since we’re trying to get outside of one dysfunctional box, let’s not imagine another. Let’s picture our nation, for a change, as a family that’s more on the functional side.

And believe it or not, there are such families out there, lots of them.

So how about, in this new paradigm, we the taxpaying voters are the Wise Elderly Grandparents. And our representatives in government—because of how they’ve been collectively behaving lately –they get the roll of our just-come-of-age teenage grandson, Sonny.
Why might the Grandparents say?

“What’s Sonny spendin’ all that cash on?”
“Good Lord, where’d he get all that money?”
“Where did it all go!? “
“Anything good coming out of it?”
“Did he make us proud? Or did he do some dang fool thing that’s gonna cost us more?”
“Where are his parents? What were they thinking??”

So those are the first questions to ask in brainstorming. $6.6 BILLION dollars? Good grief, is that really necessary? Particularly today, given easy access to low-cost, nearly free promotion spaces websites–couldn’t we source and vet good candidates better –with YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn? How many videos went viral in the past year — without spending a dime?

Did $6.6B put people to work, and strategically help grow our economy? Did it invest in our future—our children? Did it care for our veterans and elderly? Did it help repair our crumbling national park facilities, clean up lead in our pipes or Superfund sites, or rebuild our ailing bridges, electrical grid, or wifi infrastructure?  How about hiring a tutor to help us with our infrastracture grades —  we currently score as a dismal D+.

 

Or did $6.6B help out the growing number of states struggling with budget crises of their own?

What if, next time, we rewarded the guy or gal who spends the LEAST amount of money on a campaign–and without terrifying half the country with threats of bodily harm and to their families? What might that leader look like?

So, the question next is, how can we improve two things: the sourcing and vetting process of new candidates for elections, plus reduce the amount of money spent. Or use the money spent more wisely, more fairly, and more equitably? Something that doesn’t get the monkeys all riled.


An aside:  Want to stop all the protests? Treat the monkeys fairly. Really. Even monkeys will tell you that, as this 2:36 TED Talk excerpt shows.


In light of all these ideas questions in our brainstorming session, here are some election reform ideas I’ve come up with, for 2020.
Let me know if you come up with any more ideas.

Ten Outside-the-Box Election Reform Ideas

1) Election Spending Tax (EST). Every candidate and PAC gets charged a tax, dollar-for-dollar, equal to what they spend on producing and buying space in the media. (Sorry mass corporate media, after this year’s election, you deserve to lose ad revenue.)  We earmark that EST money for the states, reinstating that back-in-the-good-old-days idea from President Nixon called revenue sharing, to reduce local property taxes.

That $6.6 billion would provide $132M to each state. In Wisconsin, that would amount to $284,483 to each of our 464 school districts. Households in my district of 1,135 students would receive a property tax credit of between $150 to $250 per student.

If corporations really are people, and money equals political speech, then is it not fair that corporations should pay a tax on that privilege? I think a $250 stipend to every student in the country, for the privilege of “speaking” out to influence our elections, would be fair.

2) Set up Sister Districts. Years ago there used to be an organization called Wisconsin-Nicaragua Partners, which instituted this idea. Communities in Wisconsin “adopted” communities in Nicaragua. There were cultural exchanges and charitable giving. So why not do the same for our schools? Here in Wisconsin, there are a number of very wealthy suburbs. How about each of the wealthy school districts “adopt” a Sister District that’s not so wealthy. There could be cultural exchanges with potluck joint PTA meetings, fundraisers, mentor programs, and charitable giving. Let the wealthy district lend a helping hand to give the poorer district’s kids a hand up–not a hand out. Take them under the wing, lovingly, and teach them how to fly.

OK. This wasn’t a campaign reform idea. See what happens when you get outside the box? Other ideas happen.

3) Waive the tax for any low-budget videos featuring talking heads only–the candidate just speaking to voters, on camera, without high-priced, slick ad agencies. Prior to the 1960s, for nearly 200 years, that’s how all our candidates spoke–just facing the audience. Use technology to level the playing field for all challengers.

4) Shorten the election season to 6 months–90 days each for primary and general.
5) Limit terms of office by leveling the playing field for challengers. Establish a dedicated public broadcasting station, mirrored on cable, online, and published to YouTube, and give all candidates free equal airtime on that channel. (I don’t support arbitrarily term limits without including a clear method of recruiting new qualified candidates chosen by the people. Think we’ve had puppet candidates now?  Who will feed the mill of new candidates if we arbitrarily set term limits on members of Congress?)
6) Here’s an idea aimed at getting better quality leaders, who are more responsive to the people, and happier voters. For any federal election to be valid, require there to be at least 66% voter turnout in the general election. If there’s lackluster candidates and less than that turn out to vote, the encumbent admin goes into overtime, and a new primary election in 3 months followed by new general election 3 months after that–all new candidates required.
All salaries in Congress are frozen 2x the length of the overtime.
Maximum 2 overtime election attempts. After 3 strikes, if no worthy candidates can be drafted, the country reverts back to being a British colony, and all federal politicians are immediately subject to forfeiture of all worldy possessions including their homes and cars, requiring them to live homeless and start over from scratch–the penalty for dereliction of duty.
7)  Change the constitution to make our election days fall on a Saturday instead of a weekday. It would be a really simple, 1-word edit. Change second Thursday to second Saturday. Thanks to Bernie for this idea.
8) Automatically register all voters whenever people turn 18, and when they relocate. Another idea inspired by Bernie.
9) Hello. This is the 21st century. Create an online voting system.
10) Require all candidates to have a public LinkedIn profile. Let them compete on their actual qualifications for office, and let them make the case publicly, on LinkedIn. That’s what all the recruiters are using these days.

So there’s my brainstorm of an idea. What do you think?

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Laurel Kashinn is a certified ghostwriter, resume writer, Orthodox Christian, student of A Course In Miracles, and mom living and writing in Cedarburg, Wisconsin.

Breathe. Nothing has changed but you.

Our dearly beloveds, breathe. Have no fear. Everything happens for a reason. Judas long ago played his part. There is only one Savior. There is only one spark of Precious Life, given this world which we all miraculously share, only One Animating Spirit, One Unifying Field, throughout all time space, that beats our hearts, energizes subatomic particles, Unites us all. Only one.

What reason for darkness and for evil? Evil is a teacher. What is the lesson our young child ancestors gifted us with, when they tasted of the Forbidden Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil? What lesson learned by those who looked Evil right in the face–Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Victor Frankl, Mahatma Gandhi, and our beloved Jesus of Nazareth. What did evil teach all of them?

Peace. Is. A. Choice. Peace is an INSIDE job. Peace is not out there. It’s not in Washington or books of law, written by men.

The law of peace is written in our hearts, in our DNA.

Peace is not ever going to come from guns or locks or walls.

Peace is not, never was, never will be–out there in the World, separate from us.

The politicians over and over and over again promise us change.

If we want real change, we must BE it. If we want true and everlasting peace, we must CHOOSE it.

Right here. Right now. One day at a time.

Our dearly beloveds, breathe. Everything happens for a reason.

albert-einstein-bog

10 ways the government works for us

Today on Facebook someone commented that “most people cannot remember a time when the government worked for us instead of against us.”

I was moved by this idea to write about the concepts of government, perception, optimism, and consciousness. Mostly I wondered, don’t people remember and keep the words of Abraham Lincoln, and the founding fathers? That ours is a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people?” And how can people not see all the good things the government does for us?

To me, seeing the good things our government does is a lot like the ability to perceive God. How could someone not see evidence of God everywhere? I see evidence of both a good God and a good government everywhere.

To me, seeing good is like seeing a lot of things that are there, but we’re not aware of. It is a matter of wanting to see something, putting yourself in the right place, at the right time, and tuning your attention appropriately.

For example, we don’t often see bats in the summer, at least in Wisconsin. But there are quite a few around. If I want to really see them, I discovered there’s a roost in an old building next to the Grafton Public library where I used to work. Go to the parking lot at dusk any night all summer long, and see hundreds of bats coming out of their roost at night. It’s quite spectacular. Another example is looking through a microscope to see tiny lifeforms, invisible to the naked eye. Or using a telescope at night to see details on the surface of the moon we just can’t perceive without help.

Or even just becoming aware or conscious of something you never noticed before, can help you see it. For example, before I test drove and then bought a Honda CRV, I had never seen one before. But after I became aware of them—amazingly—I saw them everywhere!

We also have to engage our will to see things, too. We have to want to see things. One can look at a partially-filled glass and call it half empty, or half full. We make such choices. And it is purely a matter of choice.

So for those who say the government does nothing for us, really? Is that true? Or is it that you’re just not perceiving things correctly?

I decided to started a list of things I can see that government does for me. Below are just 10 things I can think of off the top of my head.

  1. My ability to read, do math, have understanding of lots of subjects—all courtesy of the fine education I received at Wauwatosa Public Schools and the University of Wisconsin system. I had an excellent education in public schools: primary, secondary, and college
  2. The Internet. Public academic institutions attempting to share information developed the first internet.
  3. My favorite radio station I listen to daily, which is WUWM-FM. If not for FCC regulations, turning on a radio station would be a mass of noise.
  4. Traveling safely on the roads. From speed limits to stop signs, rules of the road and police officers, I might have crashed and died long ago
  5. My ability to worship freely—and in a building exempt from taxes. Our government guarantees my freedom to worship — something we take for granted in this country.
  6. A clean healthy home and yard thanks to garbage pickup. Imagine if there were no garbage trucks to pick up our waste. It would get pretty smelly and we’d get pretty sick.
  7. A safe house that doesn’t fall apart on me. Thanks to building codes, permits, licenses, and inspectors—and people cooperating with them all—our homes don’t fall apart in the wind and keep us dry in the rain.
  8. Mail delivery. Wish it was still the Pony Express sometimes (I just love horses) but I’m very grateful for the ability to send and receive mail.
  9. Roads kept paved and clean of snow, ice, leaves, trash, and dead animals (imagine the graveyard our highways would be if no one ever picked up roadkill!)
  10. Laws that make it very easy to start a small business and that reduce my tax overhead. Think we’ve got red tape? You should hear how much harder it is in other countries. A friend from Germany heightened my consciousness to how easy we have it here. Again, half full, or half empty?

Anything you can add to this list, of things government does for us?believed-by-the-masses-plato-daily-quotes-sayings-pictures

Stories and Spiritual Athletics

St. Mary of Egypt and St. Zossima

Stories are so powerful, particularly the stories of people who led exemplary or extraordinary lives. One of the uncounted things I love about Orthodoxy is it’s edifying and illustrated storytelling. As part of every service, every day of the year, we tell stories and show pictures, yes from the Bible, AND from exemplars from throughout history. Exemplars who guide from the other side. Like athletes with mentors, Orthodox are spiritual athletes who look to the blessed saints for counsel and inspiration.

I also love that we tell not only HIStory but HERstory as well–we lovingly remember and revere women’s holy stories, too.

In the lifelong pursuit of ever striving to attain Theosis, success stories are edifying. We learn ways to build our own spiritual muscles. Studying those who overcame barbs and stings and snares and hurdles of difficult life journeys–of the soul’s longing for holiness–teaches strategies to apply to win our own game.

The Fifth Sunday of Lent is set aside for the telling of the miraculous story of the Holy Mother Mary of Egypt, as recorded by eyewitness St. Zossima. Some stories are worthy of a feast, and this is one. Clearly she was a victim of child sexual abuse and suffered greatly. As Victor Frankl’s story taught, in enduring the horrors of Nazi concentration camps, the choices we make, the thoughts we think, create the meaning of life. The meaning makes life. Story is life. In every moment we have this powerful gift. No one can take from us the divine gift.

Here is her story. In reading her story, may you find edification as well.

http://www.antiochian.org/stmaryofegypt

Dark force attractions, procrastination, and the heart-brain path to God

What a headline for this post, hey? Bear with me on this one…

A friend of mine of Facebook recently posted a series of very joy-filled messages to his friends, sharing his recent Chrismation into the ancient Holy Orthodox church. He is a very kind-hearted and bright person, and received dozens and dozens of OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAposts from friends congratulating him, being supportive.

This morning, on Holy Saturday, he posted a negative complaint of utter frustration with his own family, who apparently do not understand his journey, and have not been very supportive.

This is so very typical. I know that after I was Chrismated in 1999, I had a similar experience. I had been “high” on my newfound faith, my new discovery of the power of prayer, in love with God and my new church family, when I started having a series of very dark and frightening dreams, almost to the point of nightmare. Also, I suddenly experienced a major break in a relationship with a very beloved in-law family member, which threw me into a state of deep anxiety, self-doubt, anger and depression.

For my friend, for this to happen to him, now, during Holy Week, particularly, is very common. Priests, monks and laypeople engaged in dedicated spiritual practice will confirm that negativity always arises much moreso during Holy Week than at any other time. Every year on Palm Sunday, Fr. Bill reminds us of this in his sermon and shares his strategy of how to be on guard for it. He simply refuses to argue, be critical, or pass any judgment about anyone or anything during Holy Week. Period. If something negative or disturbing comes up, he uses procrastination and puts off dealing with it until Bright Week, after Pascha. He says that invariably, whatever the issue was, it dissolves into nothing by the next week.

Finally, a good use for procrastination! Maybe it could be used all the time! Any time anyone says something negative or you are tempted to get angry or pass judgment or you’re having fears or negative thoughts — just procrastinate. Put off the judgment, the fear, the worry, the concern, to next week.

I’m going to try this!

The reason excess negativity arises during Holy Week, and after blessed events like a Chrismation when we’re most prayerful, filled with light and love and hope, is because the enemy is attracted to the light. Yes, folks, there is an an enemy. He’s been very crafty this past century, getting people to think he’s a myth. What a great strategy for an enemy, hey? The fact is, the enemy is real, he lives in the dark, he has since the very beginning, and he’s always wanting more company, down there in the dark. Maybe the darkness is like a vacuum. This world is in darkness, we were born into. We’ve been mucking around in it our whole lives. And when we finally step out, into the light, maybe we pull some of that darkness along with us. Or the hole we leave behind gets filled and explodes out after us. And it does seem to have a certain kind of magnetism, that wants to drag us back into  the depths of anger, depression, anxiety, uncertainty, fear and other muck that is the darkness. That makes sense to me, as to how it works.

It is said in our faith that the Sacraments are the best way to cleanse us of these negative energies, and I have experienced that to be true.

I, too, have many dear friends and relatives who are hardcore atheists, or claim to be Christian but follow an avowed anti-Christian leader (Ayn Rand), or who are in the space in which I used to be. For decades I harbored grievances against organized religion for centuries of abuse and injustice to innocent men, women and children. I was particularly upset about the genocide of indigenous peoples–the wonton destruction of entire cultures which were peaceful and innocent. Today, a lot of people are very upset by the revelation of years of sexual abuse of children within the structure of one of the world’s major religions. It is completely understandable, and a good thing, to be outraged about that!

What I didn’t understand before I stepped out of the darkness and into the light is that God didn’t do these terrible things to man, through religion. Man did this to man. Religion is like anything – it can be wielded for good, or for evil. To condemn religion is like forbidding the use of cars because people die on the freeway in accidents. Or forbidding people from going swimming because some people drown. Or saying we should have no more corporations because some harm people. (I do draw the line on this analogy to guns. This does not apply because guns are designed for no other purpose than to kill or harm. If guns were built with auto-correction to NOT be lethal, but to only hit extremities, and with safeties that identified the trained user and would be disabled if say, a child picked it up–then I’d reconsider.)

Religion is not the problem. Mankind’s behavior is the problem. In fact, God’s been trying to help us out of this for millennia. He’s sent umpteen saints and messengers. He came down himself to teach us. He dictated an entire Course In Miracles for us to get it.  And still many of us are not getting it!

This culture we are in is ruled by dark side in a multitude of ways, primarily by false egoic identification with form. We’ve come to identify with *things*, losing sight of who we really are, made in the image and likeness of God. Our culture doesn’t support that teaching anymore; on the contrary, it teaches us that we are weak and vulnerable and need to live in fear. That stokes the ego big time.

What I’ve come to realize is that for people to turn, to see the light, what is needed is an experience of something bigger than them, that touches their hearts. Be it a near-death experience, the birth of a child, or something breathtakingly beautiful in nature that God created. Something that diminishes the ego enough for it to get out of the way, and allow the heart to see and to hear, with that inner vision.

That is what what I always pray for people, is for God to touch their hearts that they may see Him. When talking to such friends, I try to get them to just consider the possibility of having an experience like that. For example, musicians can hear harmonies and tones and chords that others cannot, because their ears have been trained. For those with untrained ears, they cannot hear those things; yet that does not mean they do not exist, simply because the untrained ear cannot hear it. If you start to study music, your perceptions change. You perceive sound in new ways. You perceive things you never could perceive before. This is how it is to find God. It is all about, as Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain said, tuning yourself to the channel of God, like dialing in a radio station. This is why A Course In Miracles includes 365 daily lessons on perception.

God is not an irrational blind belief, which is how many atheists perceive us who are pious. God exists whether we believe in him or not. He does not need us to believe in Him. He does not even need us to worship him. He simply loves us and wants us to find our way home. The worship is for our benefit, not his. Religous practice never was and is not now supposed to be forced on anyone. One of our greatest gifts, which He could have but has never taken back, is our free will. The only way to find our way home is to adjust our perceptions, to tune our hearts, to His frequency, because we want to. This is what ascetical practice is for. This is what the church and its traditions of fasting, prayer and the sacraments are all about — helping us get tuned properly.

Science is just now discovering that the heart contains neurological tissue on par with the brain.The heart is not just a pump–it is a sensory organ and a brain, processing information it receives from the world. This is good news, because God can only be experienced through the heart-brain, not the head-brain. More and more people, through the pursuit of science, will begin to experience His presence. I believe that to be true. To hear, feel, see, and get to know God, it takes training and practice, just like anything else. The Orthodox have preserved, in Christianity, the ascetical practices the best.

The Orthodox have also retained the translation of Christ’s teaching, at the last supper. To paraphrase the Greek, for which there is no English equivalent, partaking of the sacrament of the bread and wine, of the Eurcharist Supper, is the way He told us to “call him back” to us. It is much more than simply “remembering” him.  This is why the Eucharist in the Divine Liturgy every Sunday is the highlight of an Orthodox Christian’s life, and why every Divine Liturgy is like a little Holy Week and Pascha, or Easter service. He actually comes into the bread and wine, he becomes, again, a sacrifice, so that we may be healed or our negative afflictions, and live in the light.

So, if you’re having a great day, don’t be surpised when seeming “bad things happen.” Stay in the light, don’t get sucked in, by simply procrastinating on it. And remember that the path God is through the heart, not the head.

Was that too convoluted?

 

Angels and the Fullness of Faith

guardian-angel

Have you ever seen your guardian angel? I heard mine once, clear as a bell, and it saved my life.

I was in my car, driving home from work a little past 5, northbound through downtown Milwaukee on I-43. Traffic was moving well, about 45-50 mph. Radio on, thoughts random, I was in the middle lane and had just passed through the old courthouse tunnel when all of a sudden I heard a voice say “Laurel! Get in the left lane NOW!” The voice was loud, clear, imperative.  “OK,” I said reflexively, did a quick over-the-shoulder check and swung into the left lane — just as a huge piece of metal on the back the truck I had been following fell off and bounced into the road, right where I had been. It was huge. Would have gone right through my windshield. Talk about chills up my spine! On the drive home, I was in shock, said “thank you” repeatedly, and have told this story countless times in the years since. I am still grateful–both for being saved, and for the chance to hear my angel’s voice.

That saving voice confirmed what I’d felt since early childhood. Guardian angels are real, and I am blessed with one.

Discovering Orthodoxy many years later, I love its breadth, depth and inclusivity, cherishing with great deliberation and heart not only all of mankind and all created beings and matter here on earth, but also that which is beyond space and time. Angels grace every Divine Liturgy, where they are quoted and thanked, their presence visible to all in icons and palpable to some occasionally with prickles on the back of the neck. Prayers to our guardian angels are part of every little red pocket prayer book. And so are parties in their honor. How cool is that?

Every year on November 8 the Holy Orthodox Church celebrates the Synaxis of the Supreme Commanders Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, and of the other bodiless and heavenly orders, the Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Powers, Authorities, Principalities, Archangels and Angels.

Some Orthodox prayers sung in their honor: angels

  • Troparion of the Angels, Tone 4
    Supreme Leaders of the Heavenly Hosts, we implore you that by your prayers you will encircle us, unworthy as we are, with the protection of the wings of your immaterial glory and guard us who fall down before you and fervently cry: deliver us from dangers, for you are the commanders of the powers above.
  • Another Troparion of the Angels, Tone 1
    Let us praise Cherubim, Seraphim, Thrones, Powers, Authorities and Principalities, Dominions, Archangels and Angels, for they are the Bodiless ministers of the Unoriginate Trinity and revealers of incomprehensible mysteries. Glory to Him Who has given you being; glory to Him Who has given you light; glory to Him Who is praised by you in thrice-holy hymns.
  • Kontakion of the Angels, Tone 2
    Supreme Leaders of God’s armies and ministers of the divine glory, princes of the bodiless Angels and guides of men, ask what is good for us and great mercy, as Supreme Leaders of the Bodiless Hosts.
  • Exaposteilarion of the Feast, Tone 2
    O Archangel Michael whose countenance is like lightning, gleaming in an ineffable manner with the illuminations of the Trinity, of exceeding divine brilliancy, thou dost traverse the whole creation like lightning, fulfilling the divine command, watching over, preserving, and sheltering those who joyfully laud thee.

For a summary of Orthodox teachings on angels see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–KyZronQes

We must always remember that we have choices at every turn, and whatever we do, in open or in secret, we do in the presence of our guardian angel. Of that, I am convinced!  According to Orthodox teaching, each of us have been assigned a guardian angel. But it is possible to drive it away by our actions. I’m sure glad I didn’t dishonor or discourage mine, years ago.

Let me know if you’ve ever had an encounter with your guardian angel.

By the holy intercessions of Your Angels, O God, have mercy upon us. Amen.