Wednesday, July 30, 2008

thank you

I’ve started writing this post several times and every time I write a few lines, I scratch out what I have written and start again. I am trying to say thank you, but whatever I write feels small compared to how much I feel inside.

When I started Spirit First I wanted to begin by sharing my vision with friends and family, so I planned the formal announcement of the beginning of the organization to be a dinner party at my own home, which turned into our July 19 celebration. Many of my friends shared what they have to make our gathering a wonderful dinner and a musical gala. I cannot imagine a more beautiful way for the organization to commence than with the shared gifts of friends who embrace its vision.

Our celebration became more than just an announcement, as this event also became our first fundraiser. Spirit First raised several thousand dollars, and I am grateful to so many who gave such loving financial support. Everyone gave what he or she had—sometimes a big check and sometimes five or ten dollars—and all of it added up to a really nice beginning for Spirit First. To those who handed me five or ten dollars and apologized for their gift being so small, I want to say there is no such thing as a small gift when you give what you have. Besides, almost all the gifts were small gifts, but it is quite beautiful how several small gifts add up to something really big.

We often hear the expression “charity begins at home…” and Spirit First begins in just this way with its first funding coming from friends and family giving what they have to honor and support the beginning of this dream. Before we seek funding from outside sources, we begin by receiving from friends and loved ones who support our vision.

Friends not only donated money but offered what they could to contribute to the event, and those gifts are just as big. Miguel volunteered and helped me prepare the yard. Javier and Hector arrived early to help set up and several others helped with cleanup. Brigitte, a new friend I met just this year, brought plants and flowers from her garden to decorate. Glendora, an old friend I hadn’t seen in several years, offered kitchen duty and helped serve. Margarita, Etsegenet, Veronica, Azeb, Jonathan, and Basma cooked and donated incredible food. Madalina and Hector photographed the event. Treasure, Greg, Felicia, Jeremiah, Dan, Sassy, Karen, Joe, and Vicki sang and/or played music for us (all of our musicians and singers donated their time).

Everyone who gave time, gifts, or financial donations is now one of our founding contributors, our founding donors, and you are become part of Spirit First.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Friday, July 25, 2008

July 19 launching of Spirit First

Spirit First was formally introduced to the world as beloved friends gathered with me on July 19 to celebrate the launching of the organization. In the same way friends come together to witness the union of a man and woman, or come together to celebrate the birth of a child, nearly 75 people gathered to honor and celebrate with me the beginning of Spirit First.

Music filled the air, as several friends donated performances for the launching ceremonies, and we enjoyed incredibly beautiful music.

Felicia Rose came to us from Pennsylvania and brought of our young guests commented that "when I close my eyes and listen to the music, I feel completely free."

Treasure and Greg were amazing. These two are friends of my son, and I had never heard them perform until the day of our gathering. Their music was wonderful (I think they don't know how good they are...).

Dan Mack played beautiful classical guitar followed by several popular numbers accompanied by vocalist (and wife) Sassy Wagner.

Primordia brought our day full circle closing with Native American poetry and music with Joe Sullivan on flute.

photography by Madalina Diacanu
photography by Hector Guevara

Sunday, July 13, 2008

advisory board

I am honored to present to you the founding members of our Spirit First advisory board, a group of individuals who provide counsel and spiritual direction for Spirit First. From the beginning these advisors have been with me, supporting and assisting me. Spirit First would not be as beautiful as she is become had it not been for the counsel and leadership of these friends. I am most grateful…

Harkirat Singh was born and raised in India in the religious tradition of Sikhism and moved to the U.S. to earn a Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University. Harkirat is an avid student of metaphysics and philosophy and believes in living every moment with spiritual awareness. A Reiki practitioner since 2001, Harkirat is a gifted healer and loves to share this gift with others.

Harkirat’s vision can be summed up in these words from Vedic literature, “Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu”: "May all beings in all the worlds be happy."

Marc Goldring

Marc Goldring is an Associate Principal at WolfBrown in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he provides strategic planning and conducts economic and financial research for arts organizations. Marc also offers community cultural planning, helping areas develop and sustain their community’s cultural life and the lives of their cultural institutions.
Marc is a Fulbright award-winning craftsperson and has had sculptural craft work displayed in galleries and museums nationwide. He founded and directed an international organization of artists working in leather, curated exhibits of contemporary art and craft leather, and organized national and international conferences. He went on to become Executive Director of the National Crafts Planning Board, which served craftspeople in all media.

Today Marc Goldring is a fine art photographer and author of Discovering the Familiar (2008), a merging of profound images and reflective poetic prose that inspires mindfulness in the reader. His images are presented on his website at

Sedarius Tekara Perotta
Sedarius Tekara Perotta is a graduate of Georgetown University and has been an entrepreneur since his school days when he founded J&J Georgetown, a college t-shirt reseller. He became president of American Original Designs, an orthopedic back-saving carrying device company, and he founded Nihooka, an online environmentally-friendly product reseller. Sedarius later founded and now serves as president of Neuron Global, a company providing on-demand global intelligence, with offices in the Philippines, the District of Columbia, and New York City.

Sedarius conducts training on leadership and business development and provides consulting services on four continents. He served in the United States Peace Corps in Romania and participated in a United Nations leadership development program.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Rise early
when summer darkness
still enwraps the trees.
Walk into the dark forest
with only your attentive heart.
Gaze toward the east,
take a deep breath, and wait.

After a short while you will see God
carrying a lantern through the forest,
bits of light bobbing up and down
in and out, higher and higher
the light climbs, spilling over
into the spaces between the leaves
and on into the world
beyond the forest.

Then the beautiful darkness
hands you over to the light.
It slips away reverently
into the bark of the tree trunks
into the black earth
into all those other countries
that wait for its return.

Lift your face to the day-star now.
Experience the coming of dawn.
Bathed in morning light, pray
that the lantern of your life
move gently this day
into all those places
where light is needed.

posted on Spirit First with the permission of the poem's author
© Macrina Wiederkehr
All rights reserved
from The Circle of Life published March 2005, by Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wiederkehr

Friday, July 11, 2008

The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament. ~Brother Lawrence in The Practice of the Presence of God

photography by permission
graham jeffery

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

mindfulness exercise serving tea

Prepare a pot of tea to serve to a guest or to drink by yourself. Do each movement slowly, in mindfulness. Do not let one detail of your movements go by without being mindful of it. Know that your hand lifts the pot by its handle. Know that you are pouring the fragrant warm tea into the cup. Follow each step in mindfulness. Breathe gently and more deeply than usual. Take hold of your breath if your mind strays. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Monday, July 07, 2008

mindfulness exercise washing dishes

While washing dishes, wash each piece relaxingly, as though each bowl is an object of contemplation. Consider each plate as sacred. Follow your breath to prevent your mind from straying. Do not try to hurry to get the job over with. Consider washing the dishes the most important thing in life. Washing the dishes is meditation. If you cannot wash the dishes in mindfulness, neither can you meditate while sitting in silence. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh