Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Only in quiet waters things mirror themselves undistorted.
Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world.
~ Hans Margolius

photography by permission

cindy lee jones

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

bless me and enlarge my territory

Starting tonight I will be praying for you so that God will shine His face on you and grant you your wishes, and most of all so that He may bless you indeed and enlarge your territory.

My friend Etsegenet sent these words to me several days ago, and I cried when I received her blessing. She expressed her encouragement and her faith in what I seek to create in Spirit First, and she included this tremendous blessing (this is a big prayer).

As I went about my weekend’s chores, her words lingered with me, and I whispered them again and again, “Bless me and enlarge my territory….”

I think it is pretty scary for any of us to become enlarged--there’s something fearful about becoming bigger or more powerful or more knowledgeable or simply more, so we make a lot of effort to remain small.

Spirit First calls me to make something big, which calls for me to enlarge my territory. Enlarge my wisdom. Enlarge my understanding. Enlarge my giving. Enlarge my being. Enlarge my doing. Enlarge my capacity to love….

Monday, May 26, 2008


When peace is captured in a sound, one of its most poignant expressions is that of the enchanting tones of a Native American flute with its haunting melodies that pull the listener ever deeper into the mysterious journey into the soul.

I am very happy, and so very honored, to let you know Primordia will be performing for us in the launching of Spirit First on July 19. Joe Sullivan creates magic with the flute while Karen Marshall brings Native sounds with deer toes, seed rattles, and a Native small frame drum. Karen also adds mystical sounds through world percussion using rainsticks, bodhran (Irish frame drum), chimes, and dumbeks (Middle Eastern drums).

It’s the song of healing…the echo of the earth…the call of the Spirit…and it is brought to us in the gift of Primordia.

photo by Alan Kelso

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

today's treasure

Every day she presents a new offering, a marvel of beauty and tenderness. Yesterday’s gift is vanished and today’s offering will fade with the day’s passing, and I have only today, only this moment, to take pleasure in her gift.

My hibiscus tree was a present from my son 2 ½ weeks ago and every day she has offered a new treasure. Each flower that blooms remains for one day only, each coral-colored flower as exquisite and fragile as a butterfly’s wings. Every morning when I wake up I run to her to see what she has brought forth. I touch her tender petals and witness her splendor. I linger with her and return to her throughout the day, knowing today’s flower lives only for today. She has become my lesson in mindfulness.

Life takes on a sense of permanence with us, and even though we know a thing is temporary, we tend to regard it as though it is always with us. It is not. Whatever a thing is, it is with us only for today, and it will pass.

If I could give you any lesson, it would be this…be with what is with you right now. Feel the floor underneath your feet, or the ridges of your socks pressed against your shoes as you stand on the floor. Feel that same floor as you walk. Smell the scent of fresh earth after the morning rain (as there are those who complain about another rainy day and miss entirely the fragrance of wet earth). Hear, really hear, the sizzle of your eggs in the skillet and fully taste those same eggs in your mouth. Hear how many sounds are around you…the bird outside the window, the tick-tock of the clock, the whirr of the refrigerator at home or the copier in the office. Breathe deeply. Feel your own heartbeat. Taste this moment.

The human experience is not in what you accomplish. The human experience is in your being here, really being here in this moment.

And today exists only in this moment.
photography by permission

Thursday, May 15, 2008

It has been said that God is everywhere and in all things, but God can be more fully perceived in the spaces between things and in a place of silence. ~ diana christine

the sound of silence

I seek silence. I seek to create a place that encourages and honors quiet and stillness. Among the beautiful sanctuaries of Spirit First, however, is a music meditation sanctuary. One might ask why I have a space devoted to sound in the middle of grounds set apart for promoting silence, and my answer is this…it is the beauty of sound that has brought me the gift of silence.

Today I practice going to a place of silence. Some people think of silence as the absence of sound but I find silence to be so much more. Imagine for a moment how you might describe music to someone who has never heard any sound…I have an equally profound c
hallenge in describing the richness of silence. Silence is no more a singular place than music is a single note. I find silence to have layers and directions just as we find in the world of sound. Silence is full and rich. And it was the beauty of sound that became my portal to discovering silence.

In the beginning I found a place of meditation in music. Sacred music. Classical music. New age music. Contemporary Christian music. Softly and gently a perfect melody would soothe me and quiet me, melt me. Music became a resting place, a place to pause from my thinking mind and the troubles of the day. I had two worlds…the cacophony of noise in the world (which is in my head) and my reprieve of music. I did not know silence.

I began to use music as a meditation. Alone in my room I danced with it. I sat with it. I lay on the floor and melted into it. Music became for me a place of sanctuary. One day as I reached for the stereo dial, my hand stopped just before turning on the music, I paused to listen to nothing, and that moment became the beginning of my stepping into silence. I “listened” to silence. I found a clear difference between being in a place absent of sound and being in a place of listening to silence (silence is to be “listened” to). It lasted for just a moment, but it was the beginning of my understanding. I returned again and again to listen to music and then to listen to silence when the music stopped. In that beginning I found music to be a beautiful place of transition, a place for me to begin to remove the noise of the day and prepare myself for a place of silence, similar to a place of removing soiled clothing and bathing one’s self in preparation for entering holy ground.

Today I step into silence much more easily and no longer need sound to lead me there. I still love music, though, and it still melts me and opens me. The perfect sound of a flute playing Ave Maria or a single tone in the voice of Felicia Rose moves me to tears.

Silence is not created by sound but rather it is sound that comes forth out of silence. Silence is the source. Be that as it may be, it is the contrast of sound that distinguishes for us the place of silence. Sound becomes our road marker. And I shall be forever grateful for the gift of sound that has led me to silence.

photography by permission

Saturday, May 10, 2008

"The water in a vessel is sparkling; the water in the sea is dark. The small truth has words that are clear; the great truth has great silence."
~Rabindranath Tagore

photography by permission

Friday, May 09, 2008

I imagine the gardens and sanctuaries of Spirit First with joy and wonder but also with compassion and sorrow in equal measures. I grieve for the pain I see in the faces of others and my heart seeks to share a place of peace and a place of healing. Business is aggressive, expectations are cruel, demands are relentless, and noise and distraction are the music that feeds the world. Even families can be unkind and comfort is hardly to be found.

I am flourishing as my life goes further inward but at the same time my compassion deepens. I am witness to daily commutes of those trapped on hot pavements and I see weary eyes. Jostling, everybody crowding and pushing to get ahead or to stay ahead, unhealthy habits that lead to despair in our most honorable temple. Agitation reigns. But we shall create a safe place. We shall bring forth a land with quiet hills, fragrant breezes, peaceful chimes, and breathtaking beauty. We shall hold a space for silence that all who come here may touch that which is within and begin to know the truth of who they are. Peace is the language spoken here, and acceptance is its voice.

The earth offers her succor and we shall drink of her consolation.
photography by permission

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Monday, May 05, 2008


For three years I dreamed of creating a meditation retreat center called Spirit First. For three years nothing happened. From the moment I took my first step toward creating this place of peace, people started donating money, started offering free services in everything from cleaning my yard to cooking for our fundraiser, started making reservations to come from afar to our event in July...the Universe has been supportive in unexpected, astonishing ways. I am in awe.

Today I ran across a quotation that beautifully explains what is now happening in my world. The quotation is by William H. Murray, who is also quoting Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

…This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence. Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, Providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets:

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!

~ William H. Murray, The Scottish Himalaya Expedition, 1951

If you have a dream, or a desire of your heart, your commitment to move forward with it is the force that will give it birth.

Sunday, May 04, 2008


I have wonderful news to share with you. Jonathan is coming, coming from New Zealand to be with us on July 19. Jonathan is a contemporary yogi, a mystic, a writer, and a lovely friend. His first book is just now going to press, a book called Peace, Power, and Presence, which is Volume 1 in his Wisdom for a Life of Freedom series.

Jonathan finds solitude in the most profound places and will be spending the month of June living in the trees in the Amazon jungle. It is not often we have the opportunity to meet someone like Jonathan, and it brings me great joy that he will join us, break bread with us, and offer a blessing for Spirit First.

To those of you attending our fundraiser celebration, please feel invited to take a few moments to say hello to Jonathan, ask him about his book or his travels, and enjoy his presence.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

"We could say that meditation doesn't have a reason or doesn't have a purpose. In this respect it's unlike almost all other things we do except perhaps making music and dancing. When we make music we don't do it in order to reach a certain point, such as the end of the composition. If that were the purpose of music then obviously the fastest players would be the best. Also, when we are dancing we are not aiming to arrive at a particular place on the floor as in a journey. When we dance, the journey itself is the point, as when we play music the playing itself is the point. And exactly the same thing is true in meditation. Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment." ~Alan Watts

photography by permission

cindy lee jones

Friday, May 02, 2008

Felicia Rose

The first time I heard her sing, I cried. I sat on the floor in the quiet of my living room, a single candle burning next to me, and I listened to her music as tears ran down my face. The sound of her voice was a sweet fragrance that slowly filled the room and broke my heart.

She is the sound of the earth. I have heard her voice compared to the voice of Sarah McLachlan but far more, she is to be compared to the sound of the earth. She is the sound of a dune that rises and shapes itself in the desert, the sound of an open field that blossoms under spring sun, the sound of moonlight that falls on a wooded path that drinks her in.

Her name is Felicia Rose, and I cried again when I learned she will come to us and sing on July 19.

You can hear Felicia Rose and buy her music on I-tunes or on her website at And, of course, you can hear her at the launching of Spirit First this summer.