Tuesday, November 27, 2007

“It is never about how good your voice is; it is only about feeling the urge to sing, and then having the courage to do it with the voice you are given.” ~ Katie in True to Form by Elizabeth Berg

photography by permission
graham jeffery

Monday, November 26, 2007


such a fuss is made
of tolerance
how it's the way
we all should be

but tolerance itself
implies opposition
and making do with how another is
when what we'd really like
is to make him more of the same
of what we are

no, tolerance is not the way to be
but instead
sits in the shadow of something greater
of acceptance and surrender
to the differences we find

but think a bit on acceptance
and you will discover
yet a better way to be
and that of understanding,
not just accepting,
but understanding
the differences we find

leaves no room for reasoning
goes beyond thinking
or of might

understanding puts one
into the space of another
with recognition of one's self

in understanding
and seeing himself in another
his seeing
becomes knowing
and in knowing
he is becoming
two are now one

~ by Diana Christine

art by permission

Saturday, November 24, 2007

message in the music

I imagine a place of sanctuary where a Buddhist monk tends a garden that a Sufi walks through. I see a Hindu teacher presenting yoga to a class of Jewish students. I dream of mountain trails with Muslim and Christian women walking together under a shared canopy of trees. I anticipate a protestant and a Catholic drinking from the same fountain. I imagine an atheist friend feeling at home among the nuns and monks and those who meditate or pray. Ours is a place of beauty, of quiet, of peace, with contemplatives from every discipline, every faith, sharing the land.

Josh Groban has just released his holiday CD Noel and his beautiful brand-new song Thankful (written by Josh Groban). Quietly contained in the lyrics is a message that symbolizes what Spirit First knows and seeks to achieve:

Even with our differences, there is a place we're all connected. Each of us can find each other's light....

I love that Josh expressed it for me (in his exquisite baritone voice). Each of us can find each other's light.... Let us begin to see the light in each other. Let us help pave the way at Spirit First.

photography by permission

Friday, November 23, 2007

what do i want

A portion of my year 2007 was devoted to pondering what it is that I want, what do I deeply, sincerely want for my life. I read the book Eat Pray Love (now one of my favorite books), and its opening pages introduced me to a lesson Rumi taught his students. Rumi advised his students to write down the three things they wanted most in life. He then warned that one is destined for unhappiness if any item on the list of three clashes with any other item--for me this exercise was not for uncovering any contradicting desires (there were none) but was for going deeply within to find and face what it is I truly want. This introspection became one of my most significant efforts this year.

Weeks after discovering the book I watched Liz Gilbert (the author of Eat Pray Love) in a televised interview, and a lesson she left with her audience was for us to begin each day with the question "What do I really, really, really want ...?" (the words really, really, really are required). I was amazed with how much direction this little practice brings (the question relates to this day, for the rest of my days, or whatever comes up).

Both of these exercises helped me in my pondering and in every way that I explored it, I found the desire to create Spirit First.

Our lives are busy and complex, and so much noise and busyness can prevent our hearing the voice within that directs us to our own passion. Then, too, following one's own heart calls for courage (much courage) and strength, and maybe because it is easier not to pursue our dreams, we don't listen deeply. I lingered in my own pondering this year and made a decision to make every effort to honor my dream and bring it life. This, then, led to the beginnning of Spirit First. Whatever may come of it, I will be better for doing everything I possibly can to bring it to pass.

The Articles of Incorporation are now under review by my board of directors and my attorney and soon Spirit First will be legally incorporated. This dream shall come into being.

photography by permission of

Saturday, November 17, 2007

disadvantage of abundance

We in the western world enjoy the experience of abundance. We live with an abundance of sound--sounds in so many forms it surrounds us (giving us tunes even when the telephone rings)...an abundance of images--colors and forms and creativity that beckon us from the moment we awaken...an abundance of scents--fragrances that appeal to us beyond our waking hours as even our pillows carry the smell of spring rain or april showers...an abundance of souls so much so that we meet new people every day and have no time to get to know the ones we met yesterday.

With such abundance we don't drink deeply, taste completely, or experience fully.

With so many sounds around us, we don't understand the pleasure of a single note and a solitary tone. With an abundance of images and so many colors, we don't hold a piece of art in our hands, sit with it for an hour, fall into it. With fragrance all around us, many of us never close our eyes and spend time traveling on a single delicate scent into the heart of the Universe.

Because we don't drink deeply, we don't become satisfied. Because we are not satisfied, we continue to reach for more. Because we always end up with more, we never drink deeply.

Our work each day is to take a moment and experience one thing as deeply and as fully as we are capable. Touch it, taste it, feel it, experience it.

When you step from your shower, close your eyes and fully receive the embrace of your towel. Feel its softness, its lightness, its texture. Breathe its fragrance. Feel its caress on your face, on your belly, on your ankles. Don't brush it across your skin hurriedly to dry yourself and toss it aside as though it was never an important part of your day (what was the color of the towel you used this morning?).

In another moment stop and look at an image or a work of art and stay with it, feel its presence. When you listen to a friend, stop and truly hear the heart of her. When we take a moment like this each day, our ability to experience fully will deepen and enlarge.

"The soul requires duration of time -- rich, thick, deep, velvety time -- and it thrives on rhythm. Soul can’t be hurried or harried. We may go through many events in the day and experience nothing because the soul has not had the opportunity to feel them from many different points of view." ~ Robert Sardello

photography by permission
cindy lee jones

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

To treat every human being as a shrine of God is to fulfill all religion. ~ Pir-O-Murshid Hazrat Inayat KhanBowl of Saki
Within us is the soul of the whole, the wise silence, the universal beauty, the eternal One. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
photography by permission

our purpose

The purposes for which Spirit First is formed are as follows:

(A) To establish and maintain a spiritual community that encourages the practice of meditation and promotes the development of spiritual awareness and mindfulness.

(B) To welcome and support the contemplative life of every faith, discipline, religion, and tradition.

(C) To build understanding and cooperation between religiously diverse groups and to help increase peace, create equality, alleviate suffering, and encourage freedom through demonstrating and teaching the practice of inclusiveness.

(D) To provide education, tools, and networking that support those on a spiritual path.

(E) To encourage holistic attitudes, healthful living, gentleness with the earth, and compassion with the world.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

checking in

I am helped to stay on my course by checking in, letting you know where we are in our progress to coming fully into being. We are on our second draft for articles of incorporation and bylaws; we continue one step at a time.

When I get tangled in legal affairs, or when I get afraid, sometimes I come to this site to be reminded of the beauty of what we are doing and what we will be. My strength is restored.

"Courage for some is a quiet thing, for others, something that must be preached." ~ author unknown.
True silence is rest for the mind, and is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.~ William Penn

Friday, November 02, 2007

create the capacity to receive

We seem to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to get what we want and, even, quite a lot of time trying to figure out what to try to get. However, perhaps we need to shift our focus from "trying to get" to "being ready to receive." Our real work is in making ourselves ready, preparing ourselves to be able to accept our gifts from the Universe. Open. Willing. Ready. (I know at first it is more difficult than it sounds.)
Sometimes I ask myself the question, "What things would I do if I knew, completely knew, that Spirit First will come to be?"...and then I work on those things so that I am ready. This is my work.
Everything comes to us that belongs to us if we create the capacity to receive it.~Rabindranath Tagore
photography by permission

Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it towards others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world. ~ Etty Hillesum An Interrupted Life

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A human being is part of the whole called by us "universe," a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive.

~Albert Einstein, 1954