Natural healing from a bad sprained ankle: a sacrifice of praise

On a warm Thursday morning in late June I badly sprained my ankle walking Rocket through an empty lot. I limped home, managed to bake 6 dozen cookies for our church fundraiser, and while changing shoes made an excruciatingly bad move. 

I crawled to the couch writhing in pain, unable to find relief in any position. I rated it a solid 8.5 to 9.0 on the pain scale: it was hard to talk and I was unable to bear any weight. Also went into mild shock: teeth chattering with a low-grade fever. Did the standard RICE protocol: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Thankfully, had ice packs in the freezer. My sweet daughter retrieved her old crutches from the attic. My dear husband did a solid Ace bandage wrap. 

I considered friends’ advice and offers: get to urgent care/ER for an x-ray, Canadian OTC aspirin with codeine, and prescription muscle relaxants. I declined these options, decided to give my kidneys and liver a break and go natural.

Several people who witnessed the transformation I went through asked me to share what I did.

For a long time I’ve been perplexed that even amongst functional and integrative doctors I know, no one has done any studies adding specific nutritional support to surgical events. Would recovery time be shortened if patients were given extra nutrition targeted to the bodily systems most needing it to repair after surgery? Would patients experience less discomfort and pain? Would complications be reduced? What about scarring and qualitative patient experiences?

I’ve been taking vitamins most of my life and not all vitamins are the same, of course. Many are downright useless, as this Consumer Reports article indicates. But doTERRA’s Lifelong Vitality (LLV) supplements are different. First, they are whole-foods based. Nothing synthetic. That means cells recognize them as food, not synthetic chemicals that have to be eliminated from the body. Second, they under go the same CPTG independent lab testing for purity and potency. Three, in addition to my own family’s amazing experiences with them, there are now more than 7,000 positive anecdotal testimonials published online. That is a statistically significant number. Four, scientists corroborated those testimonials in the first pilot clinical human trial, published in 2017.  After two months of supplementation, the following biomarkers of cardiovascular health, antioxidant status, inflammation, and blood glucose regulation were all improved in 100% of the test subjects: HDL cholesterol, LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio, fasting insulin, homocysteine, serum vitamin E, EPA, and the AA/EPA ratio. All outcomes in the 16-item qualitative survey were improved and 12 were significantly improved, with participants reporting more mental clarity, energy, motivation, control, balance, and happiness, with less back pain, muscle pain, cold and flu incidence, anxiety, frustration, and irritation at the end of the two-month supplementation period.

So, my injury gave me a chance to do some citizen science self experimentation: application of natural solutions after an acute injury. What would the results be?

Of course, at the time, I wasn’t really thinking about all this. I was pretty preoccupied with the pain.

R.I.C.E. + N.E.O.M.A. (Nutrition, Essential Oils, Mindset of Appreciation)

From my plant medicine supply cabinet I pulled the following therapeutic-grade natural solutions.


Deep Blue Rub followed by Copaiba oil.

Applying one oil, waiting a bit and then applying another oil is a technique called layering. It is particularly useful in situations like this where multiple kinds of injuries are present: connective tissue damage, possible bone fracture, and soft tissue inflammation. (The Deep Blue Rub is a cream containing a blend of pure Wintergreen, Camphor, Blue Tansy, Peppermint, Blue Chamomile, Helichrysum, and Osmanthus.)

I repeated layering with every ice pack replacement, about every 2 hours.


After each topical application of Deep Blue and Copaiba I cupped my hands and deeply inhaled the minty woody cooling aromas, in three deep slow breaths. This is a form of aromatherapy and applies the volatile aromatic compounds directly to the limbic center of the brain via the olfactory bulb. This supported my parasympathetic nervous system, and I immediately felt more calm and relaxed.

Volatile aromatic compounds enter the body and affect all bodily systems. Volatile means they change state rapidly from a liquid to a gaseous state. Extremely small, transdermal, and lipid soluble, the constituents pass the blood-brain barrier and enter the body through the olfactory bulb of the brain, part of the limbic center. Hundreds of scientific studies have confirmed the natural chemistries have multiple side benefits and virtually no harmful side effects, unlike synthetic manmade chemistries.
Every year, scientists are discovering unique chemical constituents in the essential oils of plants. While we perceive them as aromas, specific receptors for specific constituents are found in cells throughout the body. Thus the sense of “smell” is considered the first sensory system, as we were “smelling” chemicals long before our bodies were formed. More than 3,000 unique constituents have been identified so far. This is a page from doTERRA’s Essential Oil Chemistry, one of many  free ebooks published by doTERRA.



Here is what I took:

Lifelong Vitality Pack (doTERRA) Full dose (3 supplements, 4 each = 12 capsules)
Bone Complex (doTERRA) (2 capsules)
Copaiba Softgels (doTERRA) (2 softgels)
Deep Blue Polyphenol Complex (doTERRA) (2 capsules)
D-Hist (Orthomolecular) (2 capsules)
Chlorella (Outpost Foods) (2 capsules)
Purified Filtered Water, from tap with a RO filter system, (30 oz.)

As I’ve written before, hydration is vital for cellular functioning. I knew my cells would be needing raw materials for repair of ligaments, tendons, and possibly bone. I started with a full dose of Lifelong Vitality pack, doTERRA’s therapeutic-grade, whole-foods-based set of three supplements: multivitamin, omega fatty acids, and cellular energy complex. I also took two doTERRA Women Bone Complex capsules containing bio-available calcium, magnesium and other minerals.

I figured my cells could use some anti-inflammatory support. So in addition to the topical and aromatic application of the Copaiba oil, I took two Copaiba soft gels. (Here is an excellent short (1:49) animated video illustrating what researchers have observed at the cellular level, in how Copaiba works. Copaiba comes from a tree in the Amazon rain forest. Copaiba essential oil a far less expensive and 10x-more-therapeutically-potent alternative to CBD botanical oil. Copaiba also does not trigger any drug tests like CBD does, having no THC. Not that I had any concern about that. I digress.)

I also took two Deep Blue Polyphenol Complex capsules for natural pain relief with therapeutic levels of pure turmeric, ginger, resveratrol, and other compounds.

Any time repair work is going on, waste is generated and extra water needed, all of which taxes the kidneys. My kidneys are in need of extra support anyway, so I added two supplements I thought would be helpful: two D-Hist capsules by OrthoMolecular. Containing flavonoids, antioxidants, proteolytic enzymes, and botanicals including quercetin, bromelain, stinging nettle leaf, and N-acetyl cysteine D-Hist, is an amazingly effective natural antihistamine which actually saved my life once. And it happens to also be excellent for the kidneys, which I will write about another time. This article is already way longer than it probably should be!

I decided to throw in two Chlorella capsules for good measure. A blue-green algae known to cleanse the blood of pain-causing cytokines, Chlorella effectively relieved pain from Herxheimer reactions when my daughter was being treated for Lyme disease. I have no idea if cytokines had anything to do with the pain from my ankle sprain (any doctors out there reading this, would love to know about that, please post in the comments.) But I figured it certainly couldn’t hurt.

I took all of these around 6 pm, in multiple small swallows, totaling 30 oz. of water.   

My NEO sprained ankle protocol, left to right:  doTERRA® Deep Blue Polyphenol Complex, Deep Blue Rub, Copaiba Softgels, Copaiba Essential Oil, Bone Nutrient Essential Complex, Microplex VMz, xEOMega, Alpha CRS+ and an ice pack. Not shown: dHist by Orthomolecular and Chlorella. And 32 oz. of RO filtered tap water.


Shivering under the covers, iced leg propped on pillows, I closed my eyes and began to focus my attention on the pain. A line from the Divine Liturgy came to me: “offer a sacrifice of praise.” Theologically this term applies to the sacrament of the Eucharist–that is the essence of the liturgy, the “work of the people.” Suddenly I understood it very personally, another way. In this moment of intense, breath-stealing pain, praise becomes a sacrifice.

I also recalled something Abraham Hicks has said: “Every individual cell in the body has consciousness.” That intrigued me the first time I heard it. Even single-celled organisms, such as we all were just after fertilization, are in close relationship with Source. And the cellular relationship works the same way Christ explained to Matthew and Luke: it is in our persistent asking that the solution comes. The process is simple: “knock on the door…ask and it is given.” Abraham further explains this is how the evolution of all life on the planet functions.

Suddenly I saw pain for what it is: pounding on the door, a clarion call, an alarm calling for help! I could sense that all the cells in my body were on duty, both amplifying the call, and rushing in to respond. Pain not just local to the injury site, but radiating up my leg, far beyond the immediate point of injury.  My sympathetic nervous system was geared up, with shivering to elevate my temperature. My heart rate faster so as to send blood, oxygen, and food faster. This was internal triage, communication, a miracle of cooperation! All  troops rallying! I could relax! Everything was working as it should, and help was on the way!

I was fully conscious and aware for the first time that I was cooperating consciously with my trillions of cells. Not trying to block or numb the pain— which is what “pain killers” do. Instead, I felt into the pain, riding it like a runaway horse. I spurred it on, adding my own voice to the cellular call for help. I appreciated the pain, and in so doing, tuned myself, as the Blessed Elder Paisios said, to the frequency of God. With clear focused intention, I offered my sacrifice of praise.

St. Paisios the Athonite

“Thank you, Lord, for the trillions of living cells in my body, calling for your help so powerfully. Bless all my cells for calling to you, their Source, so loudly, clearly, and vigorously. Bless this process, this pain, this food I have eaten in these supplements, and the healing oils I anointed myself with. And I thank you, God, for answering this call. Amen.”  

I appreciated that I could feel the pain so sharply — for knowing it was a call for help. I appreciated that I was shivering, that all the cells in my body were on alert, rallying to the aid of their injured brethren down at the ankle.

As I started to think of things to appreciate, other things to appreciate naturally flowed into my mind.

I snuggled into and appreciated the warm fleece blanket and the hot water bottle on my lap my daughter had kindly brought me, even though it was a hot summer day. I deeply appreciated her kind offer to finish baking and cooking for the fundraiser. I appreciated comfortable, cool, safe home with clean, running, purified water. Ice packs in the freezer. Having a refrigerator with a freezer. I appreciated my caring husband who ran to the pharmacy for a fresh Ace bandage for me. And my friends who rallied to cover my shifts. My iPhone and texting technology that allowed me to do so so easily.

I deeply appreciated the plant medicines brought to me in their purity, uncorrupted by human hands, by the many people around the world who work with doTERRA. I appreciated myself for the foresight and wisdom of stocking my natural medicine cabinet. What a blessing, to be so equipped and ready, right here at home, to take care of myself. A appreciated God’s wisdom and creativity over eons of evolution to produce the wealth of rich diversity of planetary life, all interconnected, all cooperative.

There is a difference between thinking a thought and receiving a thought. As I quieted my mind, I received a vision. All the nutrition I had just consumed I saw arriving into my stomach like truckloads of supplies. Hundreds of first responders were on the scene, laughing and joking as they worked, offloading the crates, putting them onto barges in a river, sending them downstream to my ankle. I was seeing my own bodily processes in action. It was a beautiful scene and I smiled as I fell into a light sleep, appreciating them all.

I had fully planned to spend the night on the couch. Having heard and felt the popping sound when I initially fell, unable to bear weight on it, swelling and severity of pain, Harvard via Google said this was a Stage 3 of 3 ankle sprain. I expected to be on the couch with my leg iced and elevated for days, with weeks or even months for full recovery.


Day 1: Around 9 pm I woke up needing to get to the bathroom. I carefully moved my leg and noticed the overall body pain was gone. The shivers and low-grade fever were gone as well.

Crutching to the bathroom over a carpeted floor is challenging and actually dangerous when you’re new at it.  I discovered I could now very gingerly touch my injured foot to the floor to help me feel stable in my crutching, at about 4.0 on the pain scale

Back on the couch an hour later I felt very tired. I had a strong desire for my bed and a good deep rest. It did not feel right to sleep on the couch. With a fresh ice pack on my ankle, I complied with this “asking” from my body and was asleep in bed by 10:15. Slept soundly, with only one midnight trip to the bathroom on crutches.

Day 2: By 7 am Friday, the ankle pain was barely 2.0 if I applied weight. I crutched to the bathroom and continued RICE+NEOMA. I kept smiling, my mind on so many things to appreciate.

Day 3: On Saturday morning I didn’t really need crutches but used them as insurance. I drove to church to take in my daughter’s noon music gig at the Cedarburg Strawberry Festival. Over 100,000 people come for the 2-day festival, shutting down the main 7-block-long thoroughfare of our town of 12,000. Parking in our church lot was the best closest option. I crutched/walked 4 blocks from the church parking lot to the Cedarburg City Hall and the Main Stage behind it.

My husband oversaw video recording on a tripod so I could sit with my foot propped. I was so grateful to be there–Elizabeth and her duet partner, Callie Thurow were the first act of the day. It was lunch time, a large crowd gathered and enjoyed their hour-long set with lots of applause. One man gave a very high compliment calling them “the Everly sisters” for their exceptional harmonies.

Hungry for lunch after, I got into a very long, slow-moving line for That Taco Guy.  With temperatures approaching 90 degrees in the sun, the ice pack was no longer cool but ho by the time I got back to the table with my food. My ankle was starting to throb. After eating (it was delicious!) Anthony was able to drive me to my car so I didn’t have to crutch 4 blocks back. Went home, repeated RICE+MNEO. Grateful to have a set of two ice packs, the other in the freezer. So much to appreciate!

Day 4: By 9 am the next day, Sunday, I attended church with a fresh ice pack, crutches on the side, read the Epistle, and visited downstairs with my leg elevated for a bit before heading home. Very mild discomfort, able to walk. More RICE+MNEO rest of the day.

Day 5: By 9 am Monday, zero pain. Kept the crutches nearby all week but did not need them again. I continued RICE+MNEO.

Day 6: By Tuesday I only used the wrap, and walked free of crutches. 

Day 8: By Thursday, 1 week post accident, I was done with the wrap. My ankle never felt better.

With this natural protocol, my recovery was shortened to one week. A friend estimated I saved about $500 in x-rays and doctor visit fees.

That is my personal healing through natural solutions.


Please be advised that the foregoing is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease or condition and to please maintain a relationship with a trusted healthcare provider.


What I have stated in this post only applies to doTERRA® CPTG® (certified pure therapeutic grade) essential oils and oil-based whole-food supplements, and not any other brand. doTERRA® CPTG® oils and supplements all undergo strict third-party testing for purity and therapeutic potency of every batch. In 2018 an independent lab, the Aromatic Plant Research Center, conducted laboratory tests on the top 50 essential oil sellers whose oils are all labeled “pure.” The study revealed that 95% of companies on the market, including direct sellers and retailers, are in fact selling adulterated or contaminated oils.  doTERRA is one of only 3 out of 50 that tested for 100% of all their products.


Wellbeing Essentials: Hydration

“Water is the driving force of all nature.” –Leonardo da Vinci

One of the simplest things you can do to move towards wellbeing: stay hydrated with pure filtered water, and add just one drop of doTERRA CPTG Lemon Essential Oil.

Think of yourself as captain of a giant aircraft carrier. You’re up in the control room, and down below are your workers. Not just hundreds, thousands, or even millions — but trillions — of workers. Night and day, they are there working for you. They all cooperate, know their jobs well, work for little pay, and thank God, you don’t have to micromanage any of them!

One thing you are in charge of:  feeding your crew and providing all the raw materials they need to do their jobs. Water is not only one of those raw materials, it’s also how those supplies are delivered and waste is removed. Every cell is born, grows up, works, eats, sleeps, and poops. And dies and is replaced. If you are are not properly hydrated, you are literally filling up with waste–putting a huge load on the cells of your kidneys, liver, bowel, skin, and lungs: your organs of excretion.

One simple small adjustment you can make in your lifestyle for the good: decide to stay properly hydrated every day. It all starts with that decision, that intention. Focus and understand the many benefits.

Proper hydration:

  1. Increases metabolism & helps convert food to energy
  2. Maintains healthy blood levels & reduces strain on the heart & kidneys
  3. Keeps cartilage and joints lubricated and flexible
  4. Delivers oxygen and nutrients to all cells
  5. Balances electrolytes and maintains muscle strength
  6. Removes waste and toxins
  7. Helps digest food by increasing salivary and other fluids
  8. Moistens skin and other tissues
  9. Increases ability to sweat and stay cool
  10. Helps you feel more full and uplifts your mood
Set the intention to make water intake a priority every morning

Get yourself a good-sized ceramic, glass, or metal mug — something you like.  Set a goal and figure out how many refills you need. A simple rule of thumb is half your body weight in ounces. Start drinking first thing upon awakening. Aim to consume at least half your water intake for the day by lunchtime. Take a big drink of water before each meal — this better than drinking with or after the meal. Plan to drink the remainder of your water goal by dinner.

Then, put a fresh mug of water next to your bed so you’re ready to take a drink first thing on arising.

When drinking, think of your stomach and digestive system as a garden. Water gently. Always sip–three or four swallows at a time–rather than “slamming” it.

Worried about having to go to the bathroom at night?  Hydrate early in the day, stop drinking by dinner time, and you won’t be awakened in the night.

If your work conditions don’t allow you to get away to go to the bathroom in the morning, don’t skip drinking water. This will lead to long-term damage to your kidneys. It is far better to get up earlier, give enough time to the cells of your kidneys and bowels time to do their jobs. If that’s not possible, consider your personal commitment to your long-term wellbeing. You might want to update your résumé and be ready for a chagne to better healthier work conditions.

Why Add Lemon Essential Oil

Adding a drop of doTERRA Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade Lemon Essential Oil further aids in the body’s “housecleaning.” Besides an aroma that is emotionally uplifting,  the chemistry of Lemon has properties that are energizing, cleansing, purifying, and invigorating. Lemon is one of the most versatile oils in the doTERRA line.

In a study published in the journal Neurosciences, rats exposed just five minutes a day to the vapors of Lemon showed a marked increase in energy, activity, and were able to traverse a maze significantly faster than rats not exposed to the Lemon. In another study, levels of stress hormones were reduced after ingestion.

Lemon has multiple benefits and uses. It is a powerful cleansing agent that purifies the air and surfaces, and can be used as a non-toxic cleaner throughout the home. Taken internally, Lemon provides cleansing and digestive benefits and supports healthy respiratory function.*  When diffused, Lemon is very uplifting and energizing and has been shown to help improve mood. When added to water, Lemon provides a refreshing and healthy boost throughout the day. Lemon is frequently added to food to enhance the flavor of desserts and main dishes.

Note: If you had a “bad” day, hydration-wise, and find yourself thirsty late in the day, you may discover that when you drink water you’ll have to run to the bathroom, a lot, and still feel thirsty. Think of it this way. Your aircraft carrier has a lot of waste that’s built up because you were short on liquids to keep things flushed. Now when the water comes, all hands are on deck, getting the place back in order. You’re going to need extra water before anybody can get a drink. This is why a little lemon helps the cleaning work get done quickly!

Lemon is one of the top ten oils found in reduced-price Starter Kits, which is the most cost effective way to  get doTERRA CPTG Essential Oils.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.




by Elizabeth Kashinn

March, 2017

I have romantic notions about crutches.

It begins when I’m 9 with a girl in my 4th grade class who fractures her foot. She can’t walk for a month, and I, in my childish ignorance, envy her. To me, no idea is more fantastic than that of swinging myself around all day, detached from such a mundane task as walking. Why do people even bother with it, I wonder, if crutches exist? Crutches are, in my mind, the best thing man has created, and it simply isn’t fair that they’re only given to the injured and the sick. At 9, I wish to be afflicted by some horrible ailment so that I might be granted use of them.

At 13, being wheeled through Pittsburgh International Airport, I don’t know quite what I was thinking.

In general, lots of things change when you can’t walk. Wherever you go, there seems to be a myriad of people who want to help you, and you’re given perks that you usually don’t want. Airports are no different. I’ve been inside for just shy of five minutes when a member of security sees me and asks me if I want a wheelchair. And I don’t, really, but I say yes, because I need one. Before I know it, I’m being wheeled to the security checkpoint, slinging my crutches across my lap and trying not to draw attention to myself.

The woman pushing me – Carol – is insistent upon engaging me in conversation. She’s an older lady, with gray wisps of hair that catch the light like a halo when she leans over the back of my chair to smile at me. She has the pleasant demeanor of one who’s either perfectly content in one’s life or very, very good at one’s job.

“Were you injured in a sport?” she asks me, and I wish she’d stop talking. “Wait, let me guess. Soccer?”

“No,” I say flatly. I’ve been asked this too many times. “I have fibromyalgia.”

I don’t have fibromyalgia. I also don’t have hip dysplasia or a herniated disc, but if you asked me that’s probably what I’d tell you. It’s easier that way. It shortens the conversation and saves me that confused look when I explain that no, I don’t know what I have, but yes, I’m sure that I have something. In the last four months I’ve found that the two most common reactions to that particular delineation are pity or skepticism, and I’m not in the mood for either today. For my purposes, fibromyalgia works nicely.

“Oh. I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine.”

We breeze past the line for security. I feel a twinge of guilt as I catch the eye of a woman I’m skipping, but it’s not like there’s anything I can do about it. And anyway, judging by the look on her face, she feels sorry for me; I’m the one who can’t walk, after all. I tell myself there’s no need to feel guilty and put it out of my mind as a tired-looking man with a dull expression helps me out of my wheelchair, has me take off my shoes, and directs me through the metal detector.

“Flying alone?” he asks, his voice ripe with apathy. I think I prefer Carol.

I nod, and though I’m positive he doesn’t actually care, I tell him, “I’m going home from summer camp. I got sick and had to leave early.”

He grunts. “Sorry to hear that, kid. Feel better.”

On the other side of the metal detector, Carol takes me by the arm and guides me back into the chair. My legs have already started to ache and tingle from standing; sitting is a great relief. I mumble my thanks to the man, and we speed off.

For a moment, after I’ve tuned out Carol’s cheery commentary and the commotion of the airport, my thoughts drift back to the fourth grade.

There’s a bitter sort of irony, I think, in getting what you want only when you no longer want it. There’s an odd sort of humor in finding out you were wrong. I recognize myself as a person with the bad habit of wanting things I don’t have, wanting things that don’t always make sense to want, without much regard to how such things will actually affect me. Is it my fault, then, that I got sick? Was there some energy I put out to the universe four years ago that finally came back to me? I think of my nine-year-old self and how all she wanted was to be deprived of a fundamental human function. She was so sure she knew what she was asking for. As we pull up to the gate, my hands clenched into tight fists around the cold metal of my crutches, I want to go back in time and scream some sense into her.

The plane is boarding. I’m among the first to be let on, crutching slowly to my seat and trying not to get in anyone’s way. It’s a cramped cabin, each row comprised of only two seats; the last thing it needs is a pair of crutches cluttering it up. I ask a flight attendant to put them in the cabinet in front.

“Sure thing, honey,” she says, all bright smiles and practiced warmth. “Is there anything else you need?”

Attempting to return her smile, I shake my head. “No, thank you.”

I watch her walk away and tuck my crutches into the small closet next to the cockpit. I watch as she directs a woman to the seat across the aisle from mine. I watch as the woman gets settled, flashing me a quick look of sympathy that makes it obvious that she witnessed my exchange with the flight attendant.

And if I wish in that instant to be nine years old so that these things might at least provide me some sense of satisfaction, it’s only for a moment, and I can pretend that it isn’t at all.   


Lyme Disease Awareness Presentations

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month and all are invited to attend a free presentation: A Wisconsin Family’s Lyme Journey: A Case For Hope. Laurel Kashinn is a local writer and mother seeking to share her and her family’s experience with Lyme disease following their daughter’s successful treatment. Besides her family’s story, she includes in her presentation:
+ Facts about ticks and the many diseases they can carry
+ Finding peace in the war zone over Lyme disease; how not to become a casualty
+ Resources and natural solutions: how to connect with wellbeing and stay healthy
She will present her story at Cedarburg Public Library, Wednesday, May 8, Noon-1 pm, Facebook live and Zoom online on Wednesday, May 15 at noon, and at the USS Liberty Memorial Grafton Public Library, Wednesday, May 22, from Noon-1 pm.
After navigating the healthcare system, doing extensive research, and helping her daughter who became so sick she was bedridden and had to be homeschooled for the 8th grade, Kashinn has become a wellness advocate, and seeks to share what she has learned. Hers is a message of hope and empowerment.
To learn more or for a link to the Facebook Live Zoom presentation, contact Kashinn at or call (262) 376-7777.

“In the Image and Likeness of God – The Human Person in Orthodox Spirituality” a Lecture by Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware)

MILWAUKEE–This week I had the privilege to attend a lecture at Marquette University by one of the most preeminent authors, scholars, and theologians of our generation: His Eminence, the Most Reverend Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia, MA, D.Phil, titular metropolitan of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Great Britain.


With his bishop’s hat, flowing robes, scraggly white beard, and distinctive British accent, this esteemed professor emeritus at Oxford could surely be mistaken for a Defense-Against-the-Dark-Arts instructor at Hogwarts. (To see what I mean, check out this interview with Metropolitan Kallistos on the Philokalia.)

A prolific theologian, many would count him a worthy candidate for eventual sainthood, possibly even of the kind called Equal-to-the-Apostles.

Like every Orthodox bishop I have ever met, his warmth, grace, and above all, humility was most noticeable. He’s very down to earth. What brought him to Milwaukee? Word has it His Eminence was drawn to view the collection housed at Marquette of the original manuscripts and writings of his esteemed Oxford predecessor, J.R.R. Tolkien. Thanks to Marquette for that! The Metropolitan gave us much to think about and mediate upon, particularly as we are about to embark upon our inner journey through Lent.

Given the state of the world “out there” today, our collective prayerful journey through the Lenten desert “in here” in 2016 may well be one of the most crucial, or perhaps most meaningful, of our lives. May our prayers bear much fruit.

Lenten Meditation: In the Image and Likeness of God

In Orthodoxy, we learn to hold our hand in a very specific way to make the sign of the Cross. Join together index, middle finger and thumb, to represent the holy Trinity. Fourth finger and pinkie, folded down into the palm, represents the dual nature of Christ as both fully God and fully human.


Meditate upon this: three fingers together represent the Trinity, two fingers represent Christ’s dual nature, fully man and fully God–and our own true nature as well.

This theological symbol we make using our own hand could summarize Metropolitan Kallistos Ware’s lecture.

Paradoxical Duality

Like Christ’s paradox of being both fully human and fully God, Kallistos pointed out how we human beings, too, are full of paradoxical duality. Humankind embodies both hope and disappointment, frailty and strength, beauty and ugliness, “Godlike apprehension and the quintessence of dust,” he said. We are both earthly and heavenly, temporal and immortal, spirit and flesh. In theological terms, we know from Genesis that we are made “in the image and likeness of God,” while formed out of dust. Grounded in the earth, “our personhood reaches out into infinity and into eternity.”  This paradoxical duality causes us human beings to be a mystery–to our very selves.

Even though we may know we are “‘made in the image and likeness of God,’ we understand only a very small part of our personhood,” said Kallistos. “We don’t understand ultimate fulfillment. We don’t yet know what we will be. And so we ask ‘Who am I? What am I?’” Perennially, in every generation.

Human beings are born with a sense of needing something. We are driven to find it. It is like we’re born as a puzzle with a missing piece. There is always a sense of something missing, which drives us to go out and seek for something: a yearning for fulfillment.

Kallistos’ comment parallels a core teaching in  A Course in Miracles, how there is really only one problem in life –separation from God–we often go looking in the wrong places to find the solution. It might be relationships. It might be material wealth. It might be adventure, a good time, a sense of wonder. It might be creating a life of comfort around us, in which we feel physically safe—which we do by accumulating wealth or power. Or it might be investing our lives in something more than ourselves—raising our children, or contributing to a cause.

Yet none of these truly, deeply satisfy. When we chase things and power—we always seem to need more. When we seek fulfillment in others, they all seem to leave us, eventually: if they don’t let us down, they grow up and move way, or they die. When we seek wealth and power, we find it never lasts: the more we have, the less safe and more vulnerable we feel, and we never can take it with us. And though we may devote our lives to a “cause,” often that cause is never truly fixed, but continues on past our time here.

The only way to find that missing piece of the puzzle—to fully know ourselves—is through getting to know God.

“We have within us a God-shaped hole,” Kallistos said. “Only when it is filled can we become fully human.

‘You see, the two questions, ‘what is God?’ and ‘what is man?’ are intimately connected. It is only when we look into the depths of our hearts: it is there that we find God, reflected back to us. Self-knowledge and God-knowledge are utterly co-dependent. If you know yourself, you will know God. And if you know God, you will know yourself.”

In the image of God is the image of the Trinity, and the image of Christ, Kallistos explained. Quoting Charles Williams, he said: “It is not good for God to be alone.” God is three persons in relationship, loving one another, in an interpersonal way:  “not just a unit, but a union,” he said. God is communion. God is a relational being. God is social and dialogic. God is self-giving: sharing, reciprocal, responsive, and in solidarity.

We are formed in this same image and likeness. We, too, are social, relational beings, sharing, reciprocal, responsive, and in solidarity. Dialogic means two persons in communication with one another. “It means ‘I need you in order to be myself.’”

“I need you in order to be myself.”

I understand this idea very well. I was born into a wonderful, loving, kind, generous–yet flawed–family. Like so many families, mine suffered some kind of breakdown in structure long before I was born, leaving it bereft of stable emotional support structures. Emoting was just not safe. Love was conditional: fail to behave properly, and love was withheld.

For many years I suffered the consequences of conditional love: self-loathing, low esteem, self-harm, depression, suicidal thoughts. Thank God, my one attempt at suicide was very lame and I failed.

Psychologist Frank Dance described growth in human communication from birth on to traverse a spiral shape like a helix. At birth we are the center of our universe: there is only us and our needs. We cry, and God in the form of our mother meets our needs. We think we cause everything. As we start to move higher and see farther, we realize we share this world and live in the context of others: family, parents, siblings, cousins, extended family, neighborhood, city, state, planet. We circle back around, reflecting upon our past experiences while moving forward, higher up in an ever-enlarging circle. We learn that are NOT the center, we are not alone, who we are affects others, they affect us, and so forth.


With each passing experience, our circle of experience grows bigger and we rise higher. Only by interacting with others do we see ourselves: our gifts, our talents, our abilities, within a context of a social structure. As we come around to higher levels we develop the ability to empathize: to imagine ourselves in someone elses’ shoes, feel what they feel. We develop perspective, empathy, and compassion.

But for some of us who grow up with conditional love, movement forward along the growth track can feel like an electric shock. Perhaps because of abuse, neglect, or addiction, we stop moving forward. We recoil. We put on thick gloves and shields. We build a wall. We, in essence, get stuck at a developmental stage of feeling like we are at the center of the universe. The world “out there” is going to harm us, and we have to defend ourselves, put up walls.

That was the kind of family I grew up in, emotionally. Lots of walls.

Then I had the transformative experience Metropolitan Kallistos described:  “I need you in order to become myself.”

I distinctly recall the moment. I was in my mid-20s, newly married, deeply in love with my new husband. We spent a lot of time gazing into each other’s eyes, sharing our stories. And then it happened. I saw myself as he saw me: I saw what he loved in me, in myself.  Unconditional agape love: so strong and pure, no matter what I  did, how I behaved, what mistakes I made, it forgives and endures forever. I will never forget the uplifting sensation of the opening of my heart, when I was first experienced seeing my own value, my own worth, reflected in the eyes of another. To clarify: it was not that I was validated by him. My husband did not validate me. My husband was simply the mirror–not the source. What I saw was who I REALLY am–love itself. I saw the I AM that is love, that is God–reflected in his eyes. I AM, HE IS, WE ALL ARE, that LOVE. There is only One.

God’s love. “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”—John 4:16   There is no love but God’s love, says A Course in Miracles.

That sensation of opening, of seeing that love, felt uplifting, as a revolution completed in the helical journey. I was up at the next level, looking back, and a whole new vista appeared. I experienced level of compassion for my own broken family that I had never been able to perceive or conceive of before. They simply were stuck back there, and did not know about this kind of love! How sad! (I won’t get into the years spent trying to share it with them. That’s a whole ‘nother discussion!)

Our society today is stuck, like I was, in a conditional love. Society needs to move along the path of growth. We have all suffered so much hurt, so much abuse, so much pain, many of us frozen in fear, are afraid to love, afraid to move on, afraid to trust, afraid to fall, afraid to let go.

A wonderful anthem for this generation:  Let It Go!  Good Lord: help us let it go! (Queue up Disney.)

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 1.16.56 PM
Let It Go

Here is the point: as tightly as we cling to our fears, that does not stop the unconditional love from being there, right here, right now, right before our eyes. Love is eternal. It has and always will exists. Remember: death was overcome! John 8:51. Why hold on to fear? What is needed is to open our eyes, to simply be able to perceive God which is love. In order to perceive it, we must seek mirrors — those who reflect that love back to us. We must become mirrors ourselves: we must look deeply and with love into the eyes of anyone and everyone with whom we interact, and reflect that love to them, and act upon our love.

An inner work

People make mistakes all the time, every day of the week. Whether surrounded by unloving people, terrorists, or conditional love, many in this broken world go through life alone, with conditional love. We withdraw our love for them, put them in prison, and leave them to suffer alone.

That, in a nutshell, is the problem.

“One human being in solitude is no human being,” Kallistos said.

We are not being fully human when we are like abused children, hiding alone in the closet. We all need to come out of the closet.

The answer, of course, is that we are never actually alone in the closet at all. So long as one child hides in a closet, we need to rescue them, get them out, look into their eyes, reassure them of the truth: What is real is Christ God within us, complete man and complete God, a relational being–that’s Who is real. He is right here, inside our hearts, ready for us to find him. He promised and he keeps his promises. A heart that seeks Him, finds Him.

This message is arguably the most profound truth in all of human history. This message represented a re-setting of our reality as human beings: an entirely new paradigm. It was so profound, back in the day, that it reset our consensus calendar to begin retroactively with Christ’s birth. Look at the calendar we all share. We are in the Year of Our Lord, 2016.

“Christ’s birth,” Metropolitan Kallistos said, “was the birthday of the whole human race. Not until then were the full dimensions of human personhood revealed.”

“Theology is actually a branch of Christology,” Kallistos said, not the other way around. Above all else, “we are to be faithful imitators of Jesus Christ.”

Kallistos issued a challenge to all Christians: we must go beyond simply imitating Christ. “We will greatly err unless we take it further.”

“Let us not forget Hamlet, who reminded us: ‘I have bad dreams,’” he said. “Human beings reside midway between majesty and lowliness. While we are flawed icons, always remember: Christ is our constant companion until the end of days.”

Freedom, Self-Knowledge, Creativity, Growth and Cosmic Dominion or Priesthood

Metropolitan Kallistos encouraged us to consider five points: freedom, self-knowledge, creativity, growth, and cosmic dominion or priesthood.

With regards to freedom, he challenged us to recognize that God’s freedom is absolute and unlimited, while human freedom is limited. It is within our limitations that our freedom is to be found. Don’t worry about shackles and injustice and prison bars. They mean nothing.”You must change your mind about the purpose of the world, if you would find escape,”as A Course In Miracles so eloquently states.


Knowledge of self arises out of knowledge of God. What is He always telling us? “God says: become your true self,” Kallistos said. That’s it. Everyone can become their true self. Everyone. “Recognize that nobody is dispensable, unnecessary, or useless. It is tragic that anyone ever feel that no one would notice if they died.”


It is in our own creativity that we “bless the Lord….for in wisdom hast thou made them all.” (Psalm 103-104)  All of us are made in His wisdom.

Recognize that we humans are sub-creators, as Tolkien said. “God creates out of nothing, we create out of what God has given us.”  It is in offering what we make of the world, and giving it back to God, that we become truly ourselves. We transfigure, revealing in glory, what was hidden.

For example, God gives us wheat which we transform into bread and give back to him. Likewise, He gives us the gift of the vine, we transform it into wine, and give it back to him. He receives our offering, transforms both, and gives them back to us in the Eucharist. He told us to do this to re-call him back to us. Western Christianity translates it “do this in memory of me,” but the correct translation from the Greek is “do this to call me back.” It is in the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, prayerfully made by our own hands, in a circle of giving, that He comes back into us: his sacrifice was not just on the Cross. His sacrifice continues every week Divine Liturgy–a Eucharistic mystical supper of his body and blood transformed mystically–to keep us alive, spiritually.

Of course, Kallistos pointed out, human beings are not the only creatures to whom God loves and gives his fruits and seeds.

“Squirrels collect nuts,” Kallistos said, “but they don’t transform them into liqueur!” Only human beings can transform, transfigure, and transmute what God gives us into something else.


“To be human,” Kallistos said concerning growth, “is to be a pilgrim, a journey from the image to the likeness.” The image is essentially our equipment, whereas the likeness is holiness. The journey is “the act of reaching forward,” or as I describe, moving along that path of growth, in an ever widening spiral, higher up, seeing more.

And through all of eternity, Kallistos assured us, “God will always remain a God of surprises.”

Cosmic Dominion and Priesthood

Regarding cosmic dominion and priesthood, “dominion does not meant domination,” Kallistos said. It is always to good to “remember the gentle service of Christ washing the feet of his disciples.

“Christ said ‘I am the One who serves.’ We in modern times have forgotten this.”

“Reflect on the contemporary ecological disaster. To say ‘environmental crisis’ is not strictly accurate. The crisis is not ‘out there,’ but in the human heart. The ecological disaster is a spiritual problem. We have lost sight of our true relationship to the world God has given us. Our human image is grievously distorted. What we need is an ecological change of mind.”

It is important, he said, to bear in mind the distinction between the king, the steward, and the priest. The concept of a king is not popular and is widely misunderstood today.

Many Christian ecologists, Kallistos said, call upon us to be “stewards,” for the world belongs to God, not us. But there is a disadvantage in that view. By taking on a managerial or utilitarian point of view, our egos inflate and we succumb to the temptation to elevate ourselves above creation. How do we prevent this?

“See nature not as an ‘it’ but as a ‘thou,’” he said. “Act as priests of the Creation. We are ordained, through the laying on of hands, to a natural, intrinsic priesthood, that is both eucharistic and doxological. How we become our true selves is to be who we are: Man the Offerer.”

“We must turn the world itself into a eucharistic offering—requiring, on the one hand, sacrifice, and on the other, love,” said Kallistos. “Love is at the heart of the Trinity.”

A commandment of God not written down, Kallistos said, is:  “Love the trees.”

Many criticize organized religion for how it causes us to have to worship God, and to believe blindly. But God does not need us to worship Him. Nor does He need us to believe in Him. He exists whether we worship or believe in Him or not.

The fact is, it is us human beings who need to worship. That is our nature. Whether we worship money and stuff, logic and science, sports figures or movie stars, political heroes or villains–the truth of the matter is, we are eschatological beings: we have a need to worship. Why? Because we are designed with that missing puzzle piece that is God; we are designed to come into union with Him. That is what worship is. Worship is about opening ourselves to Him.

The truth of the matter is, “the human person is a mystery,” Kallistos said, “an inexhaustible mystery.”

A day without prayer is a wasted day.”—Metropolitan Kallistos Ware

“Today is all that we have. Pray every day,” he said. “A day without prayer is a wasted day. Today, make a fresh start in all these things. Show compassion. Show practical help to the people around you. Then you will be a true person.”

I am so grateful I got to hear him speak, particularly now, at the beginning of Lent.

And particularly this year, this Lent, in the year of our Lord, 2016, let us all meditate upon our hand and who we really are: you and I are both made in the image and likeness of God. Fully man and fully God;  relational, dialogical beings. In our hearts we find God who is love. We find ourselves, we who are love, and we become true selves: mirrors, divine sub-creators.

May your prayer bear much fruit this Lent, and may the Good Lord have mercy on us.


Book Review: Lyme Disease: Why It’s Spreading, How It Makes You Sick, and What to Do about It

Lyme Disease: Why It’s Spreading, How It Makes You Sick, and What to Do about It

by Alan G. Barbour

I found this book, owned by the Eastern Shores Library System (Wisconsin), to be an engaging and thorough analysis of one of the most mysterious, debilitating, and fastest growing infectious diseases in the world. In a somewhat dry yet readable fashion, the author provides a comprehensive, up-to-date explanation in layman’s terms of the medical history, etiology, epidemiology, symptoms and treatments of Lyme disease, as well as balanced coverage of the political bifurcation in the medical world regarding its treatment, which the author refers to as “Earth” and “Twin Earth.”

Continue to read on GoodReads

A key relationship which could save the world

Every February we celebrate relationships of love. Relationship: the state of being connected. We have relationships with people. We also have relationships with things. Our cars. Our homes. Even ourselves. When doing dishes, I am in relationship with the water, the soap, the plates.

Ignore them, neglect them, and things fall apart.

I propose that there is one bottom-line key relationship that has been seriously neglected by most people. I propose furth that fixing this one relationship could help restore everything, the entire network of connections to lots of others.

You’re probably thinking I’m going to say the key relationship is with God. Nope. Not this time.

The key relationship I’m talking about? Death.

That’s right. Whether we think about or not, we all have a relationship  with Death.

Think about all the beings you know. What living being–man, woman, child, dog, cat, tree, planet, solar system–is not going to die? Can we at least agree that Death is an inevitable fact that will happen to every person? And to every living thing?

While we may have varying beliefs about life AFTER death, this is only about Death itself. You and I, and everyone you see, everyone you know, will some day, face Death.

Death is real. Death walks with me and with you, every single day of our lives. Death is sitting, right now, there in the room with you, perched on your left shoulder. You were born with your Death. Your Death is always there, at arm’s length.

Yet the vast majority who walk the earth act as if that fact, that truth, is not true. That Death is never going to happen to them, to those they love, or to their children. Sigmund Freud observed that “at bottom, no one believes in his own death…. Every one of us is convinced of his own immortality.”

Because of our neglected relationship with Death, most of us are stuck within the first four stages of grief as identified by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. You may recall the stages, so well stated by Roy Scheider in Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and finally, Acceptance.

What is your relationship with Death?

Are you in Denial? Do you just close your eyes, surround yourself with physical comforts and pleasure, and pretend it’s not there?

Are you in Anger, which is simply fear outwardly expressed: always running away, forever washing your hands, arming yourself to the hilt, erecting walls, building fortresses, protecting yourself?

Are you into Bargaining with Death?  Do you see and live life through the lens of the cold, rational, scientific mind, trying to talk your way out of the relationship?

Or are you Depressed, which is simply fear turned inward:  sad, forlorn, deflated, and with barely enough energy to get out of bed? Does the thought of Death tend to take you down into a pit of despair?

Most of the world is stuck in Denial and Anger. Think about the wars and the misery caused by Denial and Anger’s children: rivalry, nationalism, hoarding and fear. When we create the ideas of national borders, of possessions, of “resources,”  of money, of material wealth, we are doing so out of Denial of Death.  Think about the misery inflicted by cold calculating intellectual minds in the pursuit of knowledge, a form of Bargaining:  If we breed the perfect human, if we build a bigger ship, if we can just crack the code of the human genome, maybe we can live forever. We think we can engineer our way out of the Truth that Death is a fact of Life.

So where are you in your relationship with that little guy sitting on your left shoulder? Do you even have a relationship with Death at all–or are you stuck in Denial, Anger, Bargaining or Depression? Instead of seeing Death as an enemy to be avoided at all costs, could you possibly entertain the idea that Death–mortality–is actually a precious gift for which to be thankful? That Death is actually a serious Ally? Ask anyone who has had a near-death experience:  Death enhances the value of life. Death renews, motivates, and infuses energy into our every endeavor. Death brings us back to the powerful present moment. Death touches our hearts. Think about it.

What would your world be like if you let go of your fear, your denial, your sadness, moved into Acceptance of your own mortality, and then went beyond it — to Gratitude? What would the quality of your Life be like, if you had a positive relationship with Death? A loving relationship, even?

Steve Jobs did it. He embraced Death. Death was his greatest ally. It empowered him. It inspired him to live life to the absolute fullest in every moment. Even on his death bed, he was trying to improve the equipment in his hospital room, to make life better.  Mahatma Gandhi did it. He faced down legions of armed soldiers, with Death as his ally, in order to bring about peace, to save lives, to make life better. And the man, Jesus Christ, whether you believe who he says he was or not–He went willingly to death, without fear, to demonstrate that you can’t kill God. He came not to conquer, but to make life better. As did mass numbers of His followers. (We Orthodox say, He conquered death by death, and set us all free. But that’s another story.)

Life is a gift, a precious gift! And Life is never more precious than when we cultivate our relationships with those we love. Right?  Well, what if we recognized one major key relationship in our lives–our relationship with that little guy who came with the package, who’s sitting perched on our shoulder, who’s been there every day, since conception?

Let’s change our minds, change our paradigm about Death. Let’s take our hands away from our face, wipe away the tears, and look Death right in the eye.  Let us see Death as a gift, an Ally, to empower us, to inspire us, to make Life incredibly richer.

Think about what would happen to our politics, our economy, our environment– if we were ALL to stop chasing the fantasy of immortality?

Truth bestows freedom. Nothing in Life is more true than Death. We can run, we can hide, we can crawl into a hole. But is that really the best way to live?   Freedom from denial, anger, fear, bargaining and depression, here and now, in this world, is true freedom.  Treating our own Death as a friend, may prove the most key relationship of all.

The Kitchen Sink

Do not take for granted the kitchen sink
Bath water it once held to clean baby’s soapy feet
Repository of crumbs and water to wash
the plates off which we eat.

Although stained dirty with soap scum and coffee
and must be scrubbed for the white to shine anew
the kitchen sink is a luxury
our ancestors never knew.

Running water from a spiggot still remains a dream
for millions who trek after rising from their beds
a mile or more with 40 pounds of dirty water
sloshing and perched atop their dusty heads.

Pavement instead of mud we have.
Blankets and soft beds instead of stone we have.
Endless entertainment at button’s touch instead of painful toil we have.

Yet, what do we appreciate?
Our voices, our hands, our papers and ink?
Do we live in gratitude for this and more?
Or do we disdain and take for granted the dirty kitchen sink?

Would our ancestors approve our slothful despair
and ever-yearning lust for more? Our annoyance at not having enough?
Would they, schooled in the rich biography and teachings
and practiced in the worship and in true communion
with Him who gave His life for us,
shake their heads, wag their fingers, and cluck their tongues
at our childish tirades when we judge and cannot share with neighbors
at our sleeping in on Sundays
at our amassing of wealth
at our poisoning of drinking wells and swimming holes
at our irreverence and forgetfulness of THEIR graves
and our OWN souls?

Do they pray for us now?
How long has it been since we prayed for them?
How long has it been since we remembered with gratitude and humilty
the blessed souls on whose shoulders we all stand?

And what of our fear?

My daughter brought home from the fair last week
a tiny creature with sharp seeing eyes in a shell
and put it in a plastic box no bigger than a shoe.
Unable to turn round in its tiny prison
Unable to stretch and climb and dig and seek
It retreats in fear and sits sadly in a corner
Instead of crawling happily on our hands
It pinches our fingers with fear when we draw near.
We’ve lost its trust by making it prisoner.

Yet what else can we teach but what we ourselves know?
We who have imprisoned ourselves in fear?

Each day we put on fear when we put on the news.
Each day we put on fear when we lock our doors.
Each day we put on fear when we judge our neighbors as different than us.
Each day we put on fear when we judge ourselves as not having enough.
Each day we put on fear when we arm ourselves with guns.
Each day we put on fear when we rely upon ourselves for our daily bread
instead of thanking Him.

Each day we lather our lawns with poison in fear of a little yellow flower.
Each day we lather our sinks with poison in fear of a few invisible lifeforms.
Each day we entrust corporations to pasteurize and lather with chemicals our food in fear of disease.
Each day our bodies choke with fat inflamed to protect us from the toxic poisonous chemicals we spread in fear and which we now breathe and wallow in.
Each day our bodies choke with fat inflamed to protect us from the dead and sterilized and non-digested fermenting slop in our guts which the corporations call food and with which we stuff ourselves insatiably.
Each day we hate ourselves for being fat.

Each day we trade bravery for comfort
wisdom for entertainment
freedom for security
gratitude for disdain
love for fear.

Our ancestors who trekked alone, thousands of miles over sea and land,
with little more than the clothes on their backs,
they put on faith instead of fear.
Our elders who walked miles in the snow and wind and rain to school each day, and
endured the droughts, and picked the fields, and faced the straw bosses, and accepted the draft and enemy gunfire–
they knew how, each day, to put on faith instead of fear.

It takes courage to shake off this cloak of fear, this false security, and replace it with His shroud.
To put on Christ.

All this I ponder this morning, washing dishes, at the kitchen sink.

Occupy movement will fail without paradigm shift

For years I have wondered how we can achieve the positive future envisioned by Gene Roddenberry. So many elements of that future have come true — from wireless phones to iPads and even some medical procedures — books and college courses on the “science” of Star Trek abound.  But  Roddenberry’s societal vision of the future, in which money and its problems have been eliminated, elude us.  His vision of peace, prosperity, intelligence, and sanity reigning on an Earth that has recovered its environmental health seems much further away. The idea of humankind rising to a place of honor, wisdom and leadership amongst other beings in the galaxy, and an overriding respect of all life as the “Prime Directive,” seems far away.  He painted the picture of that positive future so beautifully, so concretely, you can just taste it. How on earth can we get there?

Could the “Occupy” movement possibly bring us towards a more idyllic, Star-Trek-like future?

I believe it is definitely possible. However, I predict that the Occupy  movement will have little to no effect on the status quo without a major paradigm shift, internally, in a critical number of people, away from the addictive egocentricism that characterizes the modern post-industrial collective American psyche.  Yet, with the rise of social media,  the possibility for such a paradigm shift has never been more real.

For the Occupy movement to truly have an impact, what is needed is a radical redefinition of the concept of “bottom line.”  So long as individuals seek happiness and center their lives outside of themselves, OUT THERE in the world, around material wealth, money, and profit, the movement will have no power to reform. Until mass numbers of individuals wake up to the inherent insanity of identification with THINGS, and particularly with the incessant counting of pieces of paper, round shiny bits of metal, sparkly stones, numbers on a screen, or any other objects, as a way of determining identity and value — all the protests in the world will not make a bit of difference. In fact, I predict that we simply will trade one corrupt group for another. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” We are seeing that already in the Arab world, sadly.

Given the power imbalance that already exists today, the current Occupy movement at best may succeed at changing a few laws. They likely will lead to violence, revolution, and even regime change. But without internal, personal revelation on a mass scale, inward, the movement will fail to address the fundamental flaw that undergirds our entire global economic and psychological system: addictive egoic identification to form.

For genuine and lasting reform, we have to recognize the real bottom-line truth: we are all addicted to the erroneous belief that we are the sum of our bank accounts, our cars, our homes, our possessions, our material lives.  And that we need “stuff” to be happy.  None of that is actually true. We need to admit that so long as we’re driving or flying anywhere, burning fossil fuel, wearing clothing made in sweat shops or sneakers padded with rain forest rubber or synthetic plastic, eating food that’s been shipped from the other side of the world — we are  interconnected to Wall Street, and are fueling the problem. We are as addicted to the false belief as the billionaire execs themselves. The only way for reform to make a difference is to take a long hard look in the mirror, look inside, and admit our addiction.

Genuine and lasting reform is not going to happen on Wall Street, in Washington, in state capitols, or even on Main Street–without this healing from our personal addiction. There is only one place, one direction of change that will make a true difference in the world out there: it is what the Native Americans called the 7th direction — within, internally, at home. It is what the Christian mystics call “metanoia” — changing our minds, turning towards the light of God within. It is the true definition of repentance, the true message of the voice on the wind of the Forerunner, St. John the Baptist.

From executives to shareholders to individuals living and now unemployed on Main Street, regardless of class, color, religious affiliation, or creed–reform can occur only when a critical mass of humanity can genuinely free themselves from the illusory Matrix-like rat-race we’ve all agreed to believe exists. Reform can occur when we stop looking to dollar bills to define ourselves and see instead the spark of the divine within ourselves and our neighbors, and see these pieces of paper as simply tools that work when they flow freely where needed, not to be held and hoarded in fear.  That will be when the possibility of a Star-Trek-like future can occur. By genuinely turning to the Source of All, the Light that is the spark of creation, passed down from our ancestors that lives and shines within each one us — we invite Grace into our lives. It is that amazing Grace that sets us free — free of all fear.  Fear of loss, fear of lack, fear of anything.  Only then can the dream, the vision, that all of us dare hope, can be real. A future of genuine and lasting peace, true prosperity, without war or disease.

Just as Steve Jobs demonstrated with his brilliant Apple products, it is absolutely  possible for one person, with vision and dedication, to transform the world for the better.  I believe that if just 1% of the population can achieve genuine freedom from addictive egoic attachment, can achieve genuine metanoia, union with The Light within, they will affect a cascade paradigm shift in the other 99%.

How to do it??  As with kicking any addiction, the only way to succeed is to admit our addiction to egoic attachment to form, through a 12 Step Program. Call it Egoic Attachments Anonymous, or EAA.

  • Step 1.  We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable
  • Step 2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
  • Step 3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God
  • Step 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
  • Step 5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
  • Step 6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
  • Step 7.  Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings
  • Step 8.  Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all
  • Step 9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
  • Step 10.  Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it
  • Step 11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out
  • Step 12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs

Has there ever been a civilization —  a successful civilization — that had no addictive egoic attachment to form?  Yes. I can think of two.  Both the early Christian Byzantine empire which thrived for nearly 1000 years, and the pre-colonial indigenous cultures of North America, which thrived on the continent for tens of thousands of years, possessed belief systems that 1) did not recognize or significantly downplayed the concept of personal property  2) had well-developed systems that bestowed social value and political power based on humility and selflessness 3) valued freedom and free will as a divine gift and right of all of creation, and 4) recognized the spiritual truth of our interconnectedness to each other, and to a benevolent and loving God who provides all we need.

As it says in the Bible, the way to discern good from evil is by its fruits. These civilizations yielded many fruits. In the case of the indigenous North Americans, they thrived on the continent for hundreds of generations without damaging the environment, without overpopulating, without destroying the natural balance which causes dis-ease, and without prolonged and damaging wars. Sporting a functional system of shared political power across 5 nations, some even inspired the work of founding fathers Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and others in designing our Bill of Rights and bicameral triune system of government. The many diverse yet interconnected cultures which communicated and traded effectively from one end of the continent to the other, endured continuously longer than that of any European culture, or even the habitation of the British Isles — with very little war, with preservation and sharing of natural resources, with respect of the rights of women and children, and with very little disease.

As for the Byzantine empire, a tiny piece of it still exists to this day, operating on its own clock and calendar, cut off from the world, on a very very remote penninsula, which has belonged to the Theotokos, the Mother of God, since the day she set foot on it, nearly 2000 years ago.  Called Mt. Athos, it has been called a veritable “saint factory,” producing modern-day wonderworking saints with all the miraculous healing powers of Christ God Himself. Recently profiled on CBS’ 60 Minutes, Mt. Athos remains a haven for the practice of pure indigenous Christianity, and is revitalizing monastacism and Christianity in other parts of the world, including in the United States. (See link below.)

Today, we are living in a dystopian world, an imaginary place where people lead increasingly dehumanized and often fearful lives. Gene Roddenberry painted a fabulous picture of an opposite possible future — a utopian world, in which the love of power has been replaced by the power of love–love of truth, all life, and good for all.  A Course In Miracles says there is only one problem and only one solution in all the world. The problem is the perception of separation from the Divine, from God, within.  The solution is to remove the blocks to the awareness of the spark of Divine within ourselves, of God’s eternal presence within us all and in the world. One can only hope that through the gift of social media, a critical mass of people inspired by the Occupy movement and the Arab Spring,  will turn within to seek the power to free themselves from the mass addiction, the mass delusion,  that they in any way derive their identity from things. It will be in this way, that we can call into our lives healing from this addiction,  that we can last at last find true freedom, and become the sentient, intelligent, wise race we have the potential to become. And which Roddenberry so clearly envisioned.

The paradigm shift is to move from our “bottom-line” mentality from looking at “things out there”  to looking at thing “inside” ourselves.  To succeed at true and lasting transformation to a better world, we need to occupy ourselves.

References/Resources for occupying ourselves:

Mt. Athos Special on CBS 60 Minutes, about the living remnant of the Christian Byzantine empire, unattached to material form
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, which explores the egoic attachment to form
A Course In Miracles including Workbook of 365 short daily lessons on removing the blocks to awareness of God’s presence
From I-Ville to You-Ville  a great childrens chapter book on keeping the ego small

Chronic Wasting Disease is a Spiritual Problem

There is a simple solution to chronic wasting disease: we as human beings need to return to a state of mind and daily practice of spiritual reverence and respect for all life.

In the tens of thousands of years that Native Americans inhabited North America, animals and humans were recognized as planetary family members. In the Native reckoning, all of creation comes from and returns to God, is interconnected through God, and has a spirit, fulfilling a spiritual purpose. All spiritual beings—animal, vegetable and even mineral—are guides, experts each in their own areas, and teachers, in communication with human beings through Hail-o-way-an, the language of the heart. (1) It was through this language that healing herbs were discerned and other gifts given to man in abundance.

In oral traditions that go back to the beginning of the first ice age, it was our spiritual brothers and sisters, the animals, who volunteered their hides and meat to help their hairless sibling, man, survive. Before a tree was cut to build a canoe or a lodge, prayers were offered and the eldest tree in the area was consulted and permission obtained first. Likewise, hunting was not simply a matter of food and certainly not a form of entertainment; that would have been considered blasphemous. Animals that fell to bow or ensnared in traps were thanked, recognised as spiritual equals who freely gave their physical lives so that the people could live. And it was paramount that something always be given back. (2)

It is interesting to observe that despite the fact that tens of millions of aboriginal peoples speaking over 500 different languages peacefully co-existed for thousands of years, cultivated food crops, created extensive trade routes into South America, developed sophisticated democratic political systems on which our own Bill of Rights was modeled, and preserved a natural resource base that supported them healthfully—for thousands of years longer than most of northern Europe was even populated—that there were virtually no communicable diseases present in North America. By contast, Europeans suffered from a myriad of communicable afflications. When infected with these new diseases, it was said by the Native victims that the fevers had “a face” of evil. It was said that the newcomers walked in an unholy way.

What could be more unholy, more disrespectful, more sacriligeous, than to cut up your dead relatives with chain saws—which is how modern meat processors butcher animals? Think about it. We must stop treating God’s creation as a disposable commodity, much as we stopped treating other human beings as disposable commodities when slavery was abolished and women got the vote. Respect for all life is evident in the Bible as well. When God instructed Noah in the building of the Ark, he was directed to collect two of every animal, not just the domesticated species. As the Yaqui Indian medicine man, don Juan Matus, told anthropologist Carlos Castenada, death stalks each one of us just the same as it stalks a cockroach. (3) Face it. We are all going to die, to return to the spirit world some day. We do not actually own anything other than our spirit. And to act as if we do is not only foolish, it is ungodly.

Hunters: start rebuilding your spiritual bank account. Cultivate sensitivity, respect and an attitude of gratitude for your prey. Chronic wasting disease first appeared in captive stock of elk and deer—not in the wild. Let these majestic beautiful animals live freely as God intended them to. Look to see if an animal is sick before you shoot, pray and listen to what your heart tells you. If you take the shot and hit the mark, be grateful. Learn how to butcher it yourself, respectfully, using as much of the animal as you can, wasting as little as possible, or find a spiritually centered, respectful butcher. Do not take more than you need. Recognize that God created a balanced, functional ecosystem and allow balance to return by supporting protection of our wilderness areas and the return of the high-end predators: wolves, bears and lions. They will immediately help maintain a healthy population of prey, for they take only the sick and injured.

Chronic wasting disease is a symptom of a deeper spiritual problem which will be resolved when human beings rewaken to the truth of our connection, through our hearts, to all of life, and simply allow the return of natural balance established by God.

1) For more on Hail-o-way-an and the Seneca creation story see Other Council Fires Were Here Before Ours by Jamie Sams and Twylah Nitsch.

2) For more on Native spiritual traditions see Mother Earth Spirituality by Ed McGaa.

3) See The Teachings of don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge by Carlos Casteneda.