Category Archives: religion

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Have you ever found yourself stuck on a particular thought that just won’t go away?  It could be a positive thought, a negative thought, or even a neutral thought…but it stays there, much like a song stuck in your head.  Negative thoughts, especially, seem to stick around in a really annoying way.  If a person isn’t adept at just “letting it go” (which is harder than it sounds), these thoughts become even more frustrating.  They begin as a random thought that brushes against the mind…and then many times quickly take over the entire thought process.  For awhile we wallow in these thoughts.  We think “well, if I marinate in it for awhile, it’ll just go away.”  Wrong.  At this point, they become annoyingly present at all times.  The wallowing actually made it worse.  So what is it that we do to get rid of these thoughts?  We have to consciously decide to push them away–negative thoughts have a way of snowballing into something larger than we ever thought possible, and there is no room for that in our lives.

Louise L. Hay says, “It’s only a thought, and a thought can be changed.”  There is so much truth in that statement, however unattainable it may seem at the beginning.  Different things work for different people.  Meditation has always worked for me, where it doesn’t work for others.  Affirmations work for other people and don’t seem to work as well for me.  Some people run, bike, swim, or dance (all forms of moving meditation); some people write, paint, play an instrument, or sculpt (all forms of creative meditation).  Whatever you do that works for you, keep doing that.

Recently I have gotten back into the habit of daily meditation along with a physical practice (either swimming or yoga).  It has come to my attention that instead of waiting for something to happen and then going back to meditation, I should be meditating and practicing all the time in order to buffer those situations in the first place.  I guess it’s similar to taking care of your car.  If you have the oil changed regularly, put gas in it, and keep everything tuned up, you won’t be going into the shop every month because the engine has fallen out and the tires keep exploding.  Of course, there are always the fluke accidents…but they shouldn’t be a regular thing.

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Il nostro Ambiente

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After living in the desert for a year, I have come to gain a new appreciation for the environment.  In the midwest, environmental responsibility is almost strictly limited to recycling (though admittedly, a very small percentage of people either take the bus, ride their bike, or walk to work).  The desert version of environmental responsibility is vastly different, partially because of the region and partially because of the people.

I’m sure it comes as no shock to all of you that in the desert (even the high desert) we have quite the shortage of water.  I’ve never lived somewhere that I actually looked forward to the rain; however, New Mexico is a whole different playing field.  In the midwest, it seemed as though it rained two or three times a month, and when it did rain, it would pour for a week.  The rain was so intense that we would sit inside for hours, just hoping that it would stop so we could go outside.  Many times it would be raining so hard that we couldn’t see even a foot in front of the car, making it impossible to drive.  It used to be somewhat of a joke that as soon as it started raining, we would see more people pulled over on the side of the highway than actually driving on it.  Here, that isn’t the case.

We are currently in what is supposed to be our monsoon season (my favorite time of the year here).  It rains pretty much every day for about 20 minutes and then goes right back to being sunny.  This year, however, that hasn’t happened yet.  Sure, it has rained a few times in the past two months, but nowhere near as much as it’s supposed to.  This lack of rain leads to extended periods of incredibly high fire warnings (for those of you playing the home game, most of our part of the state has, at some point, been on fire in the last two months…and most of that area is still closed).

So here in New Mexico, it is amazing to see how the people treat the earth on which they live.  The entire theme around which everything is based has to do with the natural state of the desert.  All of the architecture reflects this, the art reflects this, and even the music reflects this (keep your ears open in November for the premier of one Desert Faith Mass which promises to be amazing…or, I promise it’ll be amazing…I should know, because I’ve heard most of it).  In a discussion with a friend the other day, we both noted that in many places in the country, people landscape with plants nonindigenous to their region.  The more things you can fit in your yard, the better–especially if the plants are “out-of-towners.”  In New Mexico, for example, there isn’t a lot of grass.  If you have a yard full of grass, people actually look at you like you are insane (which honestly, if you have grass, you ARE insane).  We both said the same thing: “Do you know how much water you’re wasting by trying to keep that grass alive?”

So when is it that we decide that taking care of the environment is more important than bending it to our whim?  When do we stop treating the earth like our personal molding clay and start treating it with respect?  It is our job to take care of the environment, not destroy it.  It is our job to live amongst it, not radically alter it in order to make it something that “works better” with our lifestyles.

We’ve been singing this song at church for the last month or so, and I feel like it’s pretty appropriate to put right here.  Maybe it’ll make you think–maybe it won’t.  At any rate, at least it might make you vaguely more aware of the larger picture, even at a subconscious level.

Touch the earth lightly, use the earth gently, nourish the life of the world in our care;

Gift of great wonder, ours to surrender, trust for the children tomorrow will bear.

Let there be greening, birth from the burning, water that blesses, and air that is sweet;

Health in God’s Garden, hope in God’s children, regeneration that peace will complete.

The Risk to Be Touched

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I’m reading something called The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo.  If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.  It’s a “daybook”–that is, it’s one of those books where you read one entry every day for a year.  I seem to think that once I come full circle with this book, I’ll probably read it again and again.  Yesterday’s entry was titled “The Risk to Be Touched,” and it was quite poignant.

Nepo writes that the simplest reason that we want to be touched is that touch heals us.  He goes on to say that what hinders this is our fear to let others into our personal space.  We fear being hurt by a multitude of reasons; however, these are all reasons that even though they may be rooted in past experiences, are only perpetuated by the power of our own minds.  In effect, we are our own worst enemy.  Our minds hold power over us that is impossible to understand, at best.

So where is it that we draw the line between fear and acceptance?  When is it that we push the mind chatter to the back and exist in the silence and peace at our core?  Of course, if I had the definitive answer to those questions, I would be the author of a best-selling book.  Eventually, we need to take that chance with other people, accept them at face value, and take the hand they offer.  Though we can be incredibly self-reliant animals, eventually we need the support of others.

Nepo closes the entry with the following paragraph:

“Sometimes we would do better to admit the heart works best in mime.  For beneath the worries and fears of being hurt or rejected or taken advantage of, beneath the avalanche of excuses and explanations, there waits a deep and simple pulse that we need from each other in order to be whole.”

And really, when one person becomes whole, doesn’t that inspire others to do the same, thus coming closer to the ultimate goal of supporting not just those around us, but everyone on the planet?

Clown Cars and Music Theory

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After I wrote my first blog about our new church (“Amalgamate”) I received a few “concerned” emails.  These emails expressed what boils down to a fear for my eternal soul.  Apparently the church that we’re attending is “too accepting,” and according to these people, that is a problem.  How funny that a church where they actually act the way Jesus did is the “wrong type” of church.  Go figure.  That being said, I was reminded by a friend of a bumper sticker that says “God Loves Everyone–No Exceptions.”  I found that somewhat humorous in light of the current situation.  I was told that we shouldn’t pick a church because we agree with their “opinions” (I put that in quotes because that it what the email said).  Well…at least to me, agreeing with the message seems to be an important criterion.  Maybe I’m crazy, but I wouldn’t pick a church where I don’t agree with anything they say–that would just be stupid.

Fast forward to my most recent blog about the theory papers that I wrote.  A seemingly non-religious subject: music theory.  I have been informed that I am wrong…through more emails.  What I gathered from the majority of these emails is that college was a time for me to get all of that pesky independence out of my system and meet a husband.  Apparently I was supposed to be spending thousands of dollars on tuition in order to get an M.R.S. degree.  I thought these people had met me before, but I’m guessing they never paid any attention to my actual personality.  According to most of them, this music theory business is just the inevitable next step of Satan trying to get his hooks in me (their words, not mine).  The first step was us going to this church that is “so focused on accepting everyone and all that diversity nonsense.”  Still not grasping the connection between the two subjects at all, but whatever.  Many of them told me that now that I’m 30, it’s time for me to settle down with this “school nonsense,” be a “good housewife,” and focus on having lots of babies.  Wow.  Who knew that it was supposed to happen like that?  We won’t even go into the “focus on having babies” part, as I might have a little [precedented] explosion…you know, like the kind you have when inadvertently provoked in the middle of some random store amongst unknowing people…yeah, that kind.

Needless to say, I deleted quite a few people from my Facebook friends list in the past couple days.  I’m sorry if they think that the church we love is evil, just because they don’t preach all the fire and brimstone nonsense and they actually accept everyone.  I’m sorry if they think that I should become a “good housewife” and settle in to spend the rest of my child-bearing years cranking them out like a clown car.  But more than anything, I’m sorry that they don’t grasp the actual concept of the religion they claim to practice.  Social justice, environmentalism, equal rights, activism, helping those in need…I’m pretty sure these are foreign concepts to most of these people…and I’m willing to put money on the fact that they won’t ever want to learn about them.

Just a random observation from the world of feminist, educated, logical, socially conscious Lauren.