My One Foray Into Athletics

soccer-ballI am trying to figure out how to clearly articulate the inherent duality in non-duality discourse, so in the meantime, I give you silliness.

Now, this is truly a silly post.  This post is completely worthy of the category.  There is no hidden meaning, no social justice component, no spiritual significance, no reference to renunciation or creative expression or meditation Olympics.

This is a post about my one foray into intramural sports, or any sport at all for that matter.  I have only had one foray.

38801_151041021578234_7750609_nWhen I was in high school, I was part of the artsy theater and poetry crowd.  You know, the ones who wear all black and listen to “alternative” music.  You may reference, on the right, a picture of me and my friends against a brick wall, very Breakfast Club-esque. I may not be wearing all black in this picture, but I can assure you, I spent almost a whole year in all black.  (Later in life I balanced this out by wearing all white for a year, but that is another less silly story).

I was so all-black-alternative-artsy-poetry-girl in fact that when I participated in the Junior Miss pageant (I did what??), my “talent” was reading a piece of my own angsty poetry while dressed all in black holding a dead rose in one hand!  Yes – a dead rose.  You can imagine how that compared to the other contestants’ opera arias, baton twirling and gymnastic routines.

It’s fair to say that none of my friends were at all athletic.  The closest we came to athletics is when one of my dearest friends, a flamboyant boy named Jeffrey Fountain, would chase the Christian Athlete’s Association jocks down the breezeway, pretending that he wanted to ask them out just for fun.  He relished in who he was and made no attempt to stay in the closet.  Instead, he used to bring flowers to the football players, as if the jocks were stars in a Broadway musical instead of quarterbacks and wide receivers.

1914471_1222121920278_1785469_nSome of the guys in our circle of friends had a punk band (of course) named The Scrammies.  Despite not being athletic, we had invented our very own sport called Scram-ball – kind of like hacky sack but using a beach ball and your head.  But since there were no Scram-ball tournaments, we thought it would be rather funny if our pale and skinny lot played soccer.  So, one year we decided to enter the high school’s intramural soccer league!

In honor of our punk rock roots, we named the team the Scrammies.  For our team uniforms we wore white and green spray painted t-shirts with “Scrammies” stenciled on the back and cut-off jeans.  We showed up at every game we were assigned to and lost every one.  We cheered each other on, laughed and had lots of fun, given that we didn’t really take the whole thing very seriously.  Other more serious teams found this very annoying.

The sad fact is that in the whole intramural tournament we only scored one single goal – and it was against the faculty!

Soccer-Ball-HD-Images-WallpapersIt might surprise you to know that I am the one who scored this goal.  I was surprised as well, because it was a complete and total accident.  The ball hit me in the head and then went off in a trajectory straight into the goal.  While my head hurt and I was a bit stunned, my team mates cheered and laughed and gave me high fives.  It was all very exciting.

I am tempted to conclude this story drawing some inference about living life fully or believing in miracles or gaining compassion and understanding for athletes and people unlike ourselves by walking a mile in their shoes – even if I did wear my black high-top Converse with all the peace signs scribbled on the soles.  However, I promised to make this a purely silly post, and so I will.

Go Scrammies Forever!!

1914471_1222121960279_7150450_n

Love is Love is Love

Recently, on that ambivalent modern phenomenon called Facebook, I came across this video about the Universality of Love!  It is my new favorite thing!  Seeing people hugging and kissing, dancing and pranaming on an x-ray screen, it’s plain to see that Love is Love.

Love has no gender
Love has no disability
Love has no age
Love has no race
Love has no species
Love has no religion

Love is love is love.  Love is a wave and the ocean.  Love is compassion and empathy and Oneness.  Love is Radical Equality – equal down to the very root of Being – more than equal, ONE, just not the same.  Love is timeless, eternal, constant and immutable.  Love is Perfect.  Love is messy.  Love is yearning, striving, struggling, growing and awakening.  Love Itself completes us.  Love is physical, metaphysical, quantum physical.  Love is the entanglement of particles everywhere – molecules, electrons, amoebas and the space they are all contained within.  Love is the very fabric of the Universe.  Love is life.  Love contains all that is not Love.  Love is God.  God is Love.  Love is a Mystery.

praying handsAs much as I love all the manifestations of God – all the mantras and chants, all the prayers and communion, all the images and idols, all the psalms and bhajans, all the wisdom or all traditions, it really just comes down to Love.  We can all have different religions, we can honor all religions or no religion, but we all have Universal Love.  Love IS – the rest is commentary.

And at the root of all those rituals and spiritual practices, it is all really about getting to the Love that is at the core of every person, every creature and every cell in this universe.  We can access this Love by honoring the love in all families, couples and peoples, without judgments about the particulars.  We can access this Love by serving the love in all humans and in caring for and protecting the love in our furry friends.  We can access this Love by nurturing our Earth and the creation we live in.  We can access this Love through prayer, meditation or sadhana.  We can access this Love through gratitude, awe and prostration.

In essence, we not only access this Love, but we BECOME this Love through LOVING.

Love is Love is Love.  Love the Love.  Be the Love.

Hari Om!  Namaste.  Amen.

UadaGz1rvV53


 

Please share and spread the love around!

LHNL_ProfilePicFor more support in ending bias, even subtle bias inside your own mind, visit LoveHasNoLabels.com

To support the equality of Love and help counterbalance all the politicians trying to “protect the sanctity of marriage” ( while proving how very much they love the institution by being married themselves 4 or 5 times!) – please visit the Human Rights Campaign.

Miracles Come in Many Forms

toothacheThis morning as I was sitting at church, my tooth started hurting really bad out of nowhere.  I’m scheduled for a root canal on Wednesday, and even though I hadn’t drunk hot liquid, I hadn’t bit down on something hard, I hadn’t gotten one of those chewy gooey mentos stuck on my teeth, all of a sudden it just started aching!  It was so bad I couldn’t sing along with the hymns or speak along with the prayers.  Ouch.

The exchange of Peace in our church is more involved than in most.  We don’t simply turn to those on each side of us, shake their hands saying “Peace of the Lord” and then sit right back down.  We mill about for many minutes, we walk up and down the aisles greeting everyone in the church, alternating “Peace be with you,” “Peace of the Lord” and plain old “God’s Peace.”  Hugs are happening, smiles stretch from ear to ear and the whole congregation sounds like a festive Peace Party until finally Father Ted raises his booming voice to call us back to our seats like unruly school children.

advil_10398_4_(big)_So – during the exchange of Peace I knew I’d have enough time to run up to the vestry, where I know there is a tiny little bathroom, and sip some water from the sink to swallow some Advil from my purse, hoping it would calm down the death pangs of my dying dental root.  I made it back with time to spare and still got to hug and greet and smile at several of my fellow congregants.

After the Peace, we go right into the Holy Communion, so Father Ted lead our focus into the sharing of bread and wine, which I always use as an inner meditation to become One with the Body of Christ – literally communing with my Beloved.  As I went up and knelt at the altar and received the body of Christ and the cup of salvation I put my whole focus on my love for Christ, feeling Him with me, holding me, entering into my heart and my whole self.  As I sat back down again I noticed my tooth ache was completely gone.

miracle healing 1It’s a miracle, I thought!  The communion healed my dental pain!  Becoming One with Christ took away my suffering.  Then immediately I reminded myself that I had taken the Advil 10 or 15 minutes ago, so it was probably just the IbuProfen kicking in, not a miracle.  But wait a minute – why isn’t that a miracle?

I think it’s pretty amazing that a Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug that anyone can buy over the counter at any pharmacy, grocery store or airport news stand can take away intense tooth pain that throbs through half my face and keeps me from being able to speak – and does so in a matter of minutes!   Why is that NOT considered miraculous?  Why would it only be a miracle if a light had descended from the arched ceiling of the church, levitated me up into the air and a booming voice from the sky said “Shanti, be healed of this dental pain!”

Ibuprofen invention figure11What about the healing power of the Divine working through chemists and pharmacists in the 1950’s when IbuProfen was invented?  What about the Holy Spirit whispering inspiration to Dr. Stewart Adams and his colleagues John Nicholson and Colin Burrows and the miraculous power of the Christ working through the hundreds of people involved in this medication’s research and development? Why is that not considered the hand of God?  Why is that NOT a miracle?  Maybe God thought – “Hmmm… people aren’t as open to healings through faith the way they used to be and so many people have arthritis, headaches, and dental pain.  I think I’ll get together a team of doctors and develop a simple medication that can help…”  Does God only speak through burning bushes?

I think the whole thing is a miracle!  Not to mention the whole process of someone burrowing a tiny hole into the root of a tiny tooth, extracting the infected pulp and then flushing an antiseptic fluid in and out of said tiny hole until all the infection is gone and then filling the hole back up with a rubber compound called gutta-percha, a purified form of Mazer Wood Trees indigenous to Indonesia and Malaysia that is combined with zinc oxide and other materials to form a rubbery filling.  How in the world did anyone ever think of taking a tree from Indonesia and sticking it inside someone’s tiny root canal??  I say only God can come up with something so crazy!

You see, I see no conflict between modern medicine and God – I think it’s all good, it’s all God, it’s all healing and it’s all miraculous!

xray_2210115bAn ophthalmologist surgeon giving sight back to a blind person by implanting a light-sensitive microchip into the back of their eye is just as much PROOF to me of God’s miracles as Jesus giving sight to a blind person through prayer.  The wonders of Science doesn’t take anything away from God, it only adds to God!

In the Threshold weekend with Peter Rollins a few weeks ago, he talked about the group dynamics of some churches where doubt and questioning anything openly is NOT allowed, though everyone knows that everyone has doubt, including the pastor, and those who actually have NO doubt at all are a problem.  He gave the example of when the preacher will say that if you have absolute faith and you pray to Jesus Christ He can heal anything – and everyone nods their heads, but everyone knows that if someone broke their leg, you take them to the emergency room and the people who ACTUALLY sit and pray over someone’s broken leg are a real problem for the community – it’s showing that they don’t really literally believe what they SAY they do.

miracle18I say – pray with absolute faith AND take the person to the emergency room.  Isn’t it miraculous that doctors and nurses can take a bone that is shattered in tiny pieces and affix metal bars and add in additional bone matter and the bone regrows and heals and thank the Lord, the person can walk again!  Alleluia!  Just because God uses doctors and nurses and metal bars and bone matter, is it less of a miracle?  Why do we put these ridiculous notions on God that all miracles have to come thundering down from a cloud?

It reminds me of the old joke about the pastor and the flood.  There are flood warnings blasting out on all the radio stations urging everyone to evacuate the area, terrible floods are coming, but the pastor says, “No, I’m staying with my church, God will save me.”  Then the water rises up over the steps of the church and as the pastor stands there in knee-high water a boat comes by and they say “Get in, Father, we all have to evacuate.”  But the pastor says “No, I’m staying with my church, God will save me.”  The water rises and rises until the pastor is hanging on to the steeple, and then a helicopter flies by and the rescue workers throw down the ladder and yell “Grab the ladder, Father, and we’ll fly you to safety.”  But the pastor says “No, I’m staying with my church, God will save me.”  Then he drowns.  As he gets up to heaven and stands before God, confused and dejected he asks “God, I had faith in You, why didn’t You save me?”  And God says “Didn’t you hear the radio announcements?  And what about the boat I sent or the helicopter?”

scientific_education_evolutionary_biology_152God works through all of us – through rescue workers, radio announcers, emergency room doctors, chemists and dentists.  I was listening to Richard Rohr‘s “Christ, Cosmology and Consciousness” audio book the other day and he was talking about how the Big Bang, quantum physics and the study of the Cosmos is exactly in line with not only God but the bible.  There is no need for Christians to be opposed to evolution.  The highest testament to God’s greatness and glory is the ability for Her to create life that EVOLVES – life that is so intelligent and intuitive that it adapts and mutates as needed, life that is so filled with God’s creative power that it grows and changes and improves upon itself, life that is so inspired and filled with God’s spirit that it invents ocular implants, root canals and helicopters.

God’s miracles take many forms – and sometimes those forms look just like me and you.  We are ALL a part of the miraculous healing of our selves, our communities and our world.  God’s miracles are manifested through humanity and in humanity, all around us, every day, as plain as the nose on your face.  Sometimes God’s miracles come to us as a revelation.  Sometimes God’s miracles come to us as Ibuprofen.

tnp_baby2_1

Are Lobsters Going to Hell?

lobsterOk, I haven’t done a silly post in a long time.  Given that I haven’t been posting every day I have not felt in danger of taking myself too seriously, but I should stay committed to my policy of regular silly posting none-the-less.  I guess the real danger of taking yourself too seriously is when you think you are not in danger!

So, my silly post this week is about my idea to stage a protest outside of Red Lobster!  We could make signs, form a picket line, stamp back and forth yelling slogans.  It could even be a nationwide Red Lobster boycott that could make for silly nationwide news coverage!

Why am I picking on Red Lobster?  What have they done?  Violated workers rights or paid their employees paltry wages like McDonalds?  Served french fries with 19 ingredients like McDonalds?  Why am I not calling for a boycott of McDonalds instead??

Well, it’s biblical.

The bible says that shellfish are an abomination!  In fact, it says so 7 times, so it must be like a really bad abomination!  So, that is why I’m asking the question (despite the fact that I don’t believe hell exists, that happiness is inevitable for all living things, including lobsters, and that in the end Love always wins):  Are lobsters going to hell?

Leviticus 11:10 says “Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.” 

RedLobster_ext2_cropped_959_487_90_c1I’m not really clear if this means that those who eat lobsters are going to hell or that the lobsters themselves are going to hell, but someone sure is going to hell and it definitely means we should stage protests outside of Red Lobster!  Right?

I always think of this when I see people protesting Equal Rights for LGBTQ persons on the basis of the bible.  I want to join them with signs saying “Lobsters are Going to Hell!” and “Poly-Cotton Blends are Sinful!” and “Stop Women from Braiding Their Hair NOW!”  (Yes, Leviticus also bans wearing cloth “of two kinds of material mixed together” and women braiding their hair or wearing gold, pearls or costly garments.)

churchsignIn looking up Leviticus verses for this post I actually came across a website called God Hates Shrimp.  I was relieved to find out that the site was in fact a parody, pointing out just the sort of thing that my Red Lobster boycott aims to – that to pick and choose which bible verses to plaster on neon green poster board is hypocritical at best, bigoted and hateful at worst.

The blog 11 points put together a list of 11 things that are banned in the bible that we do anyway, and no one thinks a thing about it.  And there are much more than 11 things – and not all of them are silly.  Along with the rules stating how many camels should be given in dowry to the husband’s family, how many chickens should be given to the rabbi after each woman’s menstrual cycle before she may enter the temple again and how a man may not harm the edges of his beard, the bible also calls for stonings and all kinds of barbaric punishments for relatively minor offenses and endorses slavery, as long as the slaves are foreigners.

Personally, I believe more in tuning in to the Living Word of God that resides in our hearts and tells us what is right, what is loving and what brings us closer to Christ or Krishna, but for an alternate use of bible verses – here is a list of 15 bible verses that support LGBTQ Equality!

So, in a typical self-contradiction, and in a typical silly post turning social justice, I have changed my mind and instead of boycotting Red Lobster, I call for Lobster Rights!  Lobsters and Shrimp Unite!  Take a stand for your worthiness in the eyes of the Lord!  In my heart of hearts I know, God Loves Lobsters, too!

02food.600


HRC_Red-LogoIn the absence of a Lobster Rights Campaign, please consider helping Human Rights Campaign in their fight for equality!