What If … Mary Wasn’t A Virgin?

Working Mom

Working Mom

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” ~ Albert Einstein

“Curiosity is one of the forms of feminine bravery.” ~ Victor Hugo

“So curiosity, I think, is a really important aspect of staying young or youthful.” ~ Goldie Hawn

Do you ever wonder what if thus and so were true about situations, belief systems, or circumstances? I do all the time. I wonder about all kinds of things from what we’re taught about history to religion to politics. Some of the things I wonder about are rather trivial, others can be controversial or upsetting. They are just my musings but my goal for asking such questions is to make myself, and hopefully you, take a fresh look at our belief systems.

One of my earliest what ifs I had as a child, was why was it so important for Mary to have been a virgin when she became pregnant with Jesus? I was raised in the church that Joseph Smith Jr. founded in 1830. A side note, in the late 1800’s the Supreme Court ruled that the church I grew up in was the original church and the Mormon church was an off-shoot.

Anyway, having written that, the doctrine of the church I grew up in was very much like Protestant Christian doctrine. The virgin birth was one of the tenants in our belief system. I have no idea why I questioned the whole virgin birth idea. It just didn’t make sense to me, even though as a child I didn’t have a full understanding about sex. I didn’t understand why Mary had to be a virgin to be the mother of Jesus. Why did that make a difference in who Jesus was? I didn’t come to a conclusion about that until many years later.

When I was a religious studies student, I learned that the word that was translated as “virgin” in the Bible, really should have been translated as “maiden”, which meant an unmarried woman. As far as I remember from my Old Testament class, the custom of the Jewish culture was for a couple to become betrothed, and have a kind of trial marriage. Sex in that culture was looked at very differently than in ours. It was possible for a betrothed couple to have sexual relations and not have any stigma attached to them. So, it could have been entirely possible that Mary and Joseph had made love and Jesus was the result. For some reason, I liked that idea.

If God is all powerful couldn’t he have brought the two people together who would produce the amazing miracle of Jesus? In my way of thinking, that’s just as much a miracle as if Mary were a “pure” virgin and God was Jesus only father. From there my thinking goes to my belief that each new life is a miracle and we are all created in the image of God. It’s just that we each have different “contracts”, as Caroline Myss calls them, for our time here on this earth. Just like puzzle pieces, we each have our part to play in the great pattern that is this life we’re living. And as humans we can’t possibly fathom what the big picture will be when the puzzle is finished, if it ever is.

From those ideas, my thoughts branch off to a theme that irritated the heck out of me while studying various religious doctrines, and still does to this day. Most doctrines were created by religious leaders to control their congregants. The male leaders wanted to keep their thumb on women in particular for reasons we could speculate about from now until dooms day. In any case, that was most likely the true origin of the story of the virgin birth. Sex makes women impure, or diminishes their spirituality in some way, even within the sanctity of marriage. (I’d like to slap the person who came up with that idea.) While within most religions, men, aren’t diminished in any way by sex, even if they participate in it before marriage, or any other act that would condemn a woman. How unfair is that!?

I could write volumes more, but I like to keep my posts short. My purpose for this essay was to express my belief that Jesus was a miracle no matter whether Mary was impregnated by God, or by Joseph. And I could go on to argue that he is a much more interesting figure to me as an historical person who became enlightened rather than a divine being that is too far above me to be able to emulate. I like the idea that he showed us how to become enlightened ourselves if we so choose to do so. But that’s a post for another time.

I had fun expressing ideas that have been rattling around in my head for many years. I don’t get to have many deep discussions on religious topics anymore. Sometimes I miss the flurry of ideas expressed passionately and the new patterns of thinking I develop as a result. So, from time to time I’ll be writing more “What If” posts and hoping that you will participate in the discussion.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share any of my posts with friends. I’m going back to revisions of my novel The Space Between Time now. Until next week …

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

On Specialness

California Coast

California Coast

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ ” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

“Literature is the art of discovering something extraordinary about ordinary people, and saying with ordinary words something extraordinary.” ~ Boris Pasternak

“Some of us think that holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.” ~ Hermann Hess

Does this happen to you? It’s your birthday, or anniversary, or some other special day for you, and you don’t get the present you were hoping for, or your loved ones don’t even notice that’s it’s a special day? Or you’re telling a story and something interrupts and no one notices that you didn’t get to finish your story? Or you’re feeling down and no one notices? Then in each instance you feel irritated, angry and upset because other people didn’t respect or understand you? They were so wrapped up in their own little worlds that they completely forgot about you? That’s happened to me more times than I care to count and for years I didn’t understand why I would get so upset.

As I may have mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been studying A Course In Miracles this year. One of the concepts has baffled me a great deal. It’s the idea of “specialness”. The first time I read about this concept, which the course says “…is a lack of trust in anyone except yourself.” I felt extremely uncomfortable. Aren’t we supposed to feel that we are special? That we have gifts and talents the world needs which only we can share? In a way I was affronted by the idea that none of us are special. However, I have to admit that I have had an internal battle for most of my life between feeling ordinary and feeling special, humble and arrogant. I never understood what that struggle was about until I began studying A Course In Miracles.

Last week the concept came up again in my studies and this time I understood the idea that was being conveyed. As I’ve written many times, each of us lives in our own little world. We think of our ideas and our lives as paramount. Our well being is more important to us than that of others. I didn’t like to accept that fact about myself. The Course says it this way, “He who is ‘worse’ than you must be attacked, so that your specialness can live on his defeat.” It’s sad to say but I’ve done that, and had it done to me. I’ve rejoiced when I got the better of others and I’ve suffered when others have defeated me. Maybe it was just the fact that I was praised for something I did, and others weren’t. Or someone cheated me out of some money, or got the job I wanted and made me feel terrible. As I was reading that section of the course, I realized that it is this concept of specialness that has caused so many problems for us throughout the ages.

Something I’m still working to understand is that we are all part of God which means that every single person, maybe even every single thing that exists is my brother. Someone once said it this way, we’re all drops in the larger ocean. God is the ocean. One drop is not better or worse than any other drop but we’re all needed to complete the ocean. We all have our specific function to perform to keep the ocean healthy.

I am happy that with all that’s been going on over the last few years, I finally understand on a new level why we lash out at each other. Self-preservation is one of the most fundamental reactions we experience whenever something happens to us. If we don’t feel like we’re being understood and appreciated over a long period of time, then the pressure builds up and our hurt and anger blow the lid off the cooker and that’s when bad things happen.

My husband and I were talking about this concept in the car as we were driving on our vacation. I said, so now I understand that when we attack others we think we’re protecting ourselves, but it never works. It makes the situation worse. I loved what my husband said, “Yep. The human race hasn’t learned that one yet.” Jesus asked us to turn the other cheek and to love those who despitefully use us. Do I have enough courage to put away my sword? I very much want to. I want to stand defenseless, which is another concept of the Course, that defenselessness is strength.

When I think of the concept of defenselessnes as strength I think of the story of Immaculee Ilibagiza, whose entire family was killed during the Rowandan genocide in the early 1990s. She wrote about her extraordinary experience of survival with seven other women confined to a bathroom for 91 days in her book, Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rowandan Holocaust, written with Steve Erwin. I saw her speak during one of Wayne Dyer’s talks on PBS. She told about how she and the other women were found by the men perpetuating the terror. Some of them were men she knew. She stood her ground ready to give up her life and she told them she forgave them. When she told that story, I thought that I would not have been able to stand among the murderers as they held their machetes ready to kill me, nor would I have been able to forgive them for killing my loved ones. Yet she was able to do that and they bowed to her strength. She lived to tell the tale of what she learned from those horrific events.

I began these posts over two years ago as a forum for myself to write out and make sense of my experiences and the things I’m learning as I live my life. I write today’s post because I feel I’m at a turning point. I can’t see the world in the ways I used to. And I’m inspired to continue on this journey to become a better, stronger, more loving person. I hope you will continue to come along with me. And if you don’t understand what I’m writing about, I hope you’ll ask questions, or challenge my attempts to express what I’m learning.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Why I Left Organized Religion

Grace Cathedral Window

Grace Cathedral Window

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

“There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness.” – Dalai Lama

“True religion is real living; living with all one’s goodness and righteousness.” – Albert Einstein

Rarely do I talk or write about my break, twenty-five years ago, with organized religion but recently two things happened that made me feel the need to tell my story.

Recently, former President Jimmy Carter announced he is leaving the Baptist Church behind because it has lost its message of love and the Pew Research Center released a report about the decline of all organized religions in the U.S. You can follow the links to read the articles for yourself. When I read those stories, I wasn’t surprised.

My quest for a deeper connection to God began the day I was confirmed into the church. Several generations of my family had been members and that is the reason I joined. I was eight years old. My father, a lay minister in the church, had baptized me the week before and on that Sunday, my father and Al Gardner, another minister in our congregation, placed their hands on my head to bless and confirm me as a member of the church. The moment they touched me, I felt a loving presence surround and permeate my body and I knew it was God. I felt such peace. There was no question in my mind that God and I were friends and would have or perhaps already had had a long relationship with each other.

As I grew up, I forget my connection with God often getting caught up in the events happening around me. I grew up in the 60s and 70s, a very turbulent time. My ego sometimes convinced me that its message was better or stronger than God’s. However, God was always there with open loving arms whenever I remembered S/He was there. Every valuable thing I’ve learned throughout my life is because of my conversations with God.

Over the years I grew to understand that I’m connected to everything that exists, but that each individual must make their own discoveries about who they are and what their purpose is in the grand scheme of this thing we call life.

When I began college, I decided to study religion. I wanted to know all I could about the relationship between humans and the divine. My studies were both joyous and deeply distressing. Each religion began from a pure message that we must love ourselves and one another, but then power hungry men developed doctrines to control the members of their particular brand of religion. Each religion claimed to be THE ONE TRUE FAITH and the original message got distorted causing great conflicts. Many terrible acts of violence throughout the centuries have been committed in God’s name. I didn’t understand the purpose of it all. All I knew was I had to keep my connection to God open and I had to keep searching.

After my husband finished his degree and we moved to Portland, Oregon we were happy with our church duties for a time. We’d chosen Portland because it was one of the more progressive areas of the country and within the church as well. But things changed within the church and our local congregation and my husband and I began to feel like round pegs trying to fit into square holes. The only way we could describe how we were feeling at the time was that we wanted “more” out of our spiritual life. More than the church encouraged and more than any religion that we knew of seemed to offer.

A member of our congregation suggested we read The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. Reading that book was the beginning of the end of our commitment to the church. After that we read in rapid succession, Out on a Limb by Shirley MacLaine, Quantum Healing by Deepak Chopra, Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav and Awakening to Zero Point by Gregg Braden, which he later rewrote and I think is now titled Fractal Time.

In our deliberations about leaving the church we waffled a great deal. First of all, there was the tradition of our family connection to the church. Then there was the uncertainty of where to go from there? Attending church every Sunday morning, going to church camps and retreats and having a spiritual community were compelling reasons to stay. But two things happened to help us break the ties that held us once and for all. First, we attended two or three spiritual growth retreats developed and offered, ironically, by a minister in our church. He had been a dear friend of our parents and we were so hungry for spiritual connection and answers to our dilemma, that we gladly signed up.

The spiritual growth retreats were designed to be silent for the most part. There were short sessions where we were taught various journaling techniques designed to enhance our skills in listening to God’s voice. We learned meditation and were encouraged to be silent out in nature and wherever we went as often as possible. In fact, each participant had a cabin all to themselves so we could have a quiet place to meditate and contemplate at the end and beginning of each day. Silence during those retreats healed some deeply wounded places in my soul and I will be forever grateful for the various practices I learned during those weekends which I still use today.

The other thing that happened was we had an amazing session with Neale Donald Walsch, author of the Conversation With God books, who was working as a psychic in Portland at the time. The actual sequence of events leading up to my disassociation with the church is now a blur in my mind because one aha led to the next in such rapid succession, but I can say without question seeing Neale was the most profound experience of all.

We’d found Neale’s card on the bulletin board in the dressing room at Common Ground Communal Hot Tubs. A church friend of ours cleaned the place and got free tickets, which she shared with us. Our friend and her husband, my husband and I would go soak and talk every two or three weeks or so. I remember on one visit I saw Neale’s business card, pointed at it and Barry nodded. We took down the number and made the appointment. This was really going out on a limb for us. We felt like we were entering woo woo land. But, Neale’s voice and manner of speaking was so kind and gentle. He was open and accepting and the things he said to us rang true in our hearts. The main thing he said was that we were wasting our talents and that we were embarking on an exciting spiritual journey. That was the confirmation we needed to hear. It wasn’t long after that that we relinquished all our responsibilities within our congregation and stopped attending church.

For awhile we searched for a new spiritual home. We attended Silent Friends meetings, the local Unity Church, and a mega New Thought church. None of them felt like home for long. One of the ministers at the New Thought church once said in a sermon, “Religion should be in the business of putting itself out of business. It should give each individual the foundation to establish their own personal spiritual practice.” That’s what my husband and I came to understand was what we had longed for all those years. We wanted a deep personal relationship with God in which we could shed all the things that don’t serve us or the world. We wanted to allow ourselves to be instruments in God’s hands.

I’m deeply grateful for the foundation I received from my spiritual upbringing in the church of my family. It was within the church that I understood that I could have a personal relationship with God. My daily spiritual practice is deeply enriching to my life, however, I know now I don’t need all the trappings of religion to be the conduit between me and God. It seems to me that the Pew research might indicate that there are others who feel the same way I do.

Thank you for reading this long post. Feel free to leave a comment.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Changing My Mind

Tarantula Nebula

Tarantula Nebula

“Detachment is not that you should own nothing. But that nothing should own you.” – Ali ibn abi Talib

“Contemplate these words: Nothing matters, and you think it does.” – Neale Donald Walsch

For nearly five years, my husband and I have been paying off our credit card debt. Life has been quite difficult. I know some of you know exactly what I’m talking about. Not having money made us feel constrained. There was no possibility for travel, or any extras. Sometimes even things that were necessary had to wait. These five years, I’ve had to delve deeply into my attitudes about money. So often the things that hold us back are a result of beliefs we picked up as children and because we believe them without question, it’s hard to shake them off. Many of my money beliefs held me back. I didn’t believe I deserved to have money. I thought the amount of money I had defined who I was as a person and I thought that being prosperous took affluence away from others. None of that is true.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that I was beginning a tapping regimen to dig up some of those destructive thought patterns I’d accepted as truth. It’s amazing how much I’m changing because of concentrated effort to get myself straight about the purpose of money and my relationship to it.

Something I learned early in this journey was that I am NOT defined by personal possessions, the amount of money I have in the bank, or even my accomplishments. Just getting clear about that was a big relief. However, that wasn’t the end of my awakening, though for a while, I thought it was.

We’re each so much more than we show the world in our everyday lives. Some of us sense that. We know on some level that the things we do in our day-to-day lives doesn’t really matter to the Soul. We’re expanding through experiencing life, and that’s what matters. Others take life at face value and believe that the events that happen to them personally and the events out in the world, are all there is. They don’t believe there is anything more. I feel sorry for them for they must live what Ralph Waldo Emerson calls “lives of quiet desperation”. Maybe they are happy. I can’t say, since I’ve always felt that there is much more to living than can be perceived with my six senses.

I’m describing humans, who really defy description, as having an either/or approach to life. That’s not really fair, but for the purposes of my point, perhaps you will forgive me.

Anyway, for those of us who are seekers, we’re often rewarded with the perfect tool, or lesson, or friend, or teacher, when we need them most. And I was blessed just at this turning point in my life with the tapping technique and a focused meditation that have helped me dig down to those detrimental buried beliefs that I picked up along the way. As I tap, send Reiki to myself, and meditate, I see the error in concepts and beliefs that I’ve held as true for so long. I pick up each one, examine it to see if it fits who and where I am now. If it fits, I keep it. If not, I let it go. What is required is a change in perspective. That sounds easy enough, but if you’ve tried to change anything about your life, you know it takes a concentrated effort before the new habit, or attitude takes hold.

When I chose this undertaking to change my attitudes about money, I had a big obstacle to overcome. For years I’ve felt a huge block between me and money. It was almost like a physical wall inside my head. Whenever I dared dream of becoming prosperous in whatever endeavor I happened to be working on, that wall would loom large. It seemed insurmountable. I felt, for some reason, like I wasn’t meant to be successful, and have money flow to me easily. What’s more I couldn’t imagine what it felt like to never worry about money. This is the one thing I’ve been working on these five years. I’m happy to say, that with the help of the tools I’ve been given and determination to change my perception, the wall is coming down.

Even though I’ve made that big breakthrough, I’ve got more tangled emotions around money that need to be changed and healed. Just today in my meditation it came to me that I’ve held onto the belief that if I’m successful, or prosperous, that someone else is deprived. Intellectually, I know that’s hogwash. But, the thing about belief systems is they get handed down generation after generation and the idea that there isn’t enough of anything to go around is a pernicious belief that just isn’t true. What’s so bad about this particular belief system, is that we blame those who HAVE, for the poverty of those who DON’T HAVE. So, all these years, I’ve blamed people who are so much more prosperous than I am, when where I really needed to look was at myself and my beliefs about success and money. The bottom line about that is: I didn’t think I deserved it. The focus for my next stage in my healing process, is to allow myself to know that there is abundance enough for all of us. I won’t have to feel guilty about the success that I create. I can be an example for others of how to find their own success.

I’m grateful for the shifts in perception I’ve had so far. I’ll keep you posted when more insights come my way.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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Who Am I?

Cochise Campus Flower

Cochise Campus Flower

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched – they must be felt with the heart.” –Helen Keller

“There are victories of the soul and spirit. Sometimes, even if you lose, you win.” –Elie Wiesel

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” –Viktor E. Frankl

My posts lately have been increasingly introspective. They’ve been my spiritual musings directed at how we can make the world a better place in which to live. Today I’m hoping to finish the series with this basic question. Who am I?

I’ve asked myself that question often, especially in the last seven years when life has been a bit more of a struggle than it had been previously. Who am I without all the possessions, titles, opinions of others and of myself? If I had nothing but what I came into this world with, who would I be?

You might wonder why I ask that question. What difference does it make? How can it help us solve the dire problems we face in the world? If you’ve been reading my posts for any length of time you know that my premise is that we must change ourselves to change the world.

Right now close family members of mine are going through an extremely rough time. In many ways they’ve been stripped of the things that we often think define us. It’s been a dark time for them, and for me, because I love them and feel connected to them. Their struggles have made them ask the question, who are we really? By extension, I’ve gone back to asking myself again, who am I without all the outer trappings of life?

It’s important to keep asking that question for two reasons. First, it helps us discover why you’re here on the planet. It points to our life’s purpose. Second, as we grow and change the answer shifts a bit because we discover we possess new talents and abilities of which we were previously unaware.

When we go through dark times and are stripped of our ego identify, it’s rough. If you’ve gone through it, you know the feeling. You’re lost. It feels like you’ll never get out of the hole in which you find yourself. You feel despair.

We often think of despair as a bad thing. However, having gone through what some call “the dark night of the soul,” I can say with confidence that despair can be a very good thing to feel, if you allow yourself to really feel it instead of avoiding it with medication, alcohol, TV, video games or any other distraction. I have to say here that some people need the medication just to get to the place where they can deal with their despair.

The thing about being in a dark place is this: At some point in our lives, we have to face our true selves. Being in the dark place gives us an opportunity to do deep soul searching. When we do that, we are confronted with the reality of how much more there is to us than we ever could have imagined possible. That can be a scary proposition because it means we’re responsible for using our gifts and talents. It means we can’t sit back and complain, or be lazy any longer.

Many people around the globe are facing their true selves. Some, maybe even most, would rather live in despair than to acknowledge the shining light within. Despair is familiar. We think we deserve it. That’s not true. We deserve to be happy. We deserve to contribute our wisdom and light to others in the world.

How do we break the cycle of centuries of living in the dark? Think about this: What if the ideas that the powerful always win, violence is the norm, and that most of us are put on this earth to struggle, are completely wrong? What if we are light beings with talents beyond our imagination? What if we ordinary people could change the world by changing ourselves? Who would you be then?

This is something I’ve been contemplating for a very long time. I harp on it a lot in these blog posts because something compels me to love myself, and allow myself to be who I really am. If I’m compelled to learn self-love, it must be important for others to learn as well. At this juncture in history, I don’t see how we can continue unless each person takes a good look at themselves and asks themselves who they really are.

I can’t say I know who I am quite yet, because I feel like there are parts of myself I’ve kept hidden, or that I’m not ready to see. On the other hand, I’m not going to give up trying to answer that question. I want to know myself. I want to be my true self so I can help others answer the question, who am I?

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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Radical Love

Celeste and Shane IMG_0040 “True words aren’t eloquent;
eloquent words aren’t true.
Wise men don’t need to prove their point;
men who need to prove their point aren’t wise.

The Master has no possessions.
The more he does for others,
the happier he is.
The more he gives to others,
the wealthier he is.”
― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

“I give you a new commandment that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13: 34-35. The New Revised Standard Version

I don’t usually quote The Bible even though I graduated with a Religious Studies degree. The reason I don’t is because we think we know what the quotes mean from years of going to church school classes and listening to sermons. I’d like for us to consider a new, deeper way of thinking about the above Bible quote. I’d like us to consider that Jesus was asking his disciples, us, to practice Radical Love.

What is Radical Love? I don’t claim to have any special insight on that subject. This blog is prompted by something I saw on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last week. Jon’s guest was a man who had written a book about the Koch brothers. During the course of the interview, the guest said something like, “These brothers are so wealthy that they’ll never know what it feels like to have to live on $2.00 a day.” When he said that I turned to Barry and said, “How do you reach someone like that? How do you help them find empathy for others less fortunate than they are?”

The next morning the answer came to me. We have to learn to practice Radical Love. Love is the only thing that will melt the hard-hearts of people who’ve never had to struggle to feed their family, or who’ve never lost everything. Practicing Radical Love is the only thing that will soothe the wounded hearts of people who’ve known nothing but struggle, discrimination, hatred and unending fear.

I don’t claim to be good at practicing Radical Love. Oh how often I want to make snarky comments on Facebook, or Twitter. But then I remember that we’re all connected by some indefinable something that’s linked to the Divine. And that stops me from writing the remark. Making sarcastic remarks on social media and in our daily discourse isn’t going to help the situation.

All I know is that we can change the world. But to do that, we have to be willing to change ourselves, as I’ve been writing in this blog for the last few weeks. We have to change ourselves so that we can look at another human being and see their beautiful soul, the soul that connects each of us to the greater Soul. We need to have empathy for what they are going through, and we need to love them, no matter what we think they’ve done.

That’s a tall order. I don’t do it all the time. My ego gets in the way. I get angry that the other person doesn’t see the world the way I do. When we fight against a person, we make them angry. When we fight a situation we make it worse. As Eckhart Tolle says in A New Earth, “Discontent, blaming, complaining, self-pity cannot serve as a foundation for a good future, no matter how much effort you make.”

So, all I can say about the Koch brothers and everyone like them, is that I have to send them love. I have to visualize that the love I send is getting through to their hearts so that they can become compassionate, and have empathy for others. When they feel that, they’ll stop fighting to keep the billions of dollars they own all to themselves. They’ll be willing to share it with those less fortunate.

What are your thoughts about what Radical Love might be? I’m interested to know what you think.

Ariel and Daddy (31)

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014
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We Still Have Time to Change pt. 2

Early June Yucca

Early June Yucca

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself. – Rumi

“Love is the deepest gift that we could be ever be given by someone and it’s the greatest gift that we could ever give to ourselves.” –Mastin Kipp

Continuing on the theme from last week, I’d like to write about one of my experiences, as a Reiki practitioner. I learned a great lesson during this period of my life.

For those of you who don’t know what Reiki is, it’s also known as, The Usui System of Natural Healing. It’s an ancient laying on of hands healing technique, and can be used to heal health issues, life situations, mental and spiritual issues, in other words, virtually anything we will ever face. I won’t go into the history of how Reiki came to this country now. It’s much too long. Besides, you can do some research on the internet if you’re interested. What I want to share is my experience of using it as a spiritual practice.

My husband and I were on a spiritual quest when we were introduced to Reiki. Since the church we had grown up in used hands on healing, we felt immediately connected to the practice and decided to become initiated.

Some time after I was initiated into second degree, I volunteered to give Reiki once or twice a week to the daughter for an old family friend. She had full-blown AIDS. This was early in the days of the AIDS epidemic, and not much was known about it. After my short time of practicing Reiki and seeing amazing results, I felt confident that I could be the conduit through which L could be healed. The Reiki practitioner is just a conduit for the healing energy, you see, but in my hubris, I wanted her to be physically healed. I didn’t understand that healing can take many forms. The person receiving the Reiki is in partnership with the energy, I was just the garden hose through which the energy flowed.

I think it’s a common feeling among people when they find a new talent or skill to be excited about what they can do, without understanding the depths it will take to become a master of the practice. Offering Reiki to L for the remainder of her life, was a huge lesson for me. No one knows the life contract, as Carolyn Myss puts it, of the person who has requested the healing. In the case of L, there were many family and personal issues she needed to deal with before leaving the planet. As the months wore on, and her health continued to deteriorate, I learned a great lesson from her and her family. Life is ephemeral, and death can be a beautiful, mysterious process. L and her family took the time to heal old wounds and peel back the layers that had kept unconditional love at bay. I became a humble witness to the transformation of their family dynamics.

At L’s memorial service, I got to observe the love shown to the family, and from the family to all those present. It was one of the most loving experiences of my life, and I was grateful that I got to help with the healing process of L and her family.

That experience taught me that to become a true healer takes lots of practice, and personal work. A healer can’t do their job well unless they have dealt with their own dark places. At that point in my life, I had many dark places that needed to be examined and exposed to the light. Reiki has been a powerful force in my own self-healing journey. And if that’s all I use it for, that and to help my family and friends, then that’s a wonderful use of my practice.

I’d like to close this post by sharing the Principles of Reiki with you. These are principles that could be used by anyone to help them improve their life, whether they are a Reiki practitioner or not. They’ve been of great comfort to me.

Just for today, do not worry,
Just for today, do not anger,
Honor your parents, teachers and elders,
Earn your living honestly,
Show gratitude to every living thing.

Blessings to you on your healing journey.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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We Still Have Time To Change

Earth from the Moon

Earth from the Moon

“Increasing your care for the concerns of the global whole brings spirit and increased empowerment to the personal self.” –Doc Childre, GCI Steering Committee Chairman

A few weeks ago, my book club group got together for lunch. We weren’t discussing a book, it was just social time. A few of the women were going away on vacation and we weren’t going to get together until early July. Every time we get together the conversation always turns to all the things that are going wrong in the world. I must say that sometimes I’m overwhelmed by events too. We do face big problems. However, most of the time, I’m the one who puts a positive spin on events, because I’ve learned that every thought and word we say has power to affect the world around us.

At lunch, the conversation turned to something horrible that was going on, and one of the women said, “I’m sure Lucinda will be able to put a positive spin on this.” We all laughed, as I said, “I’m not sure I have anything positive to say about that situation.” Then as the conversation went on, I did think of positive things to say.

About a week later, I got one of my weekly emails from Global Coherence Initiative the DBA name of the Institute of HeartMath. It was about solar cycles and how solar and geomagnetic activity affects humans. Remembering our discussion at lunch, I forwarded the email to the members of the book club group.

Global Coherence Initiative is a science based, co-creative project to unite people in heart focused care and intention…” a quote that explains what they do from the home page of their website. It’s free to join to participate in the synchronized care focus of the day where heart energy is sent to discordant situations around the world. They also provide wonderful educational videos that show how our energy emanates outward from us. The videos opened my eyes to the effect I have not only near to home, but in far away places.

My friends were thrilled to get this information. One of them said that I should write a blog post about this, and about my spiritual upbringing, which in her words, “I also firmly believe that your early training in spiritual matters provides you with a level of simple fortitude that helps [with] coping.”

When I read her email it made me think about my upbringing. I was fortunate to have parents who paid attention to spiritual matters. But, it was more than that. Something in my parents DNA was passed down to me that caused me to seek the spiritual life of self-healing.

We know that traits of all kinds are passed down from generation to generation through DNA. Even attitudes are passed down through DNA and education. Traits that were passed to me were an automatic spiritual connection, an acceptance of every individual, and a positive attitude. I embrace change and see the good in it because it’s in my DNA. It’s easy for me. For others it might not be so easy to accept that we all have a spiritual connection, and that we all affect the world around us. If that’s not part of your DNA, maybe GCI can help you understand just how important you are as a part of this planet we’re living upon.

Getting back to the GCI article, we are affected by many unseen forces in the world. We think we’re so advanced, and look down on the superstitions of the past where people believed they were affected by celestial events. The research done at GCI shows us that we ARE affected by the stars. It also shows that each of us is vibrating and sending out energy all the time, though most of us are completely unaware of that fact. We are affected by the energy of other people.

In many of my posts over this past year, I’ve written again and again about the need to heal ourselves, which in turn helps to heal the world. When you watch the videos produced by GCI , you’ll see that my assertion is true. I didn’t come by that assertion by accident. I came by it through lots of study of spiritual teachers, and sites like GCI.

So, if we’re going to save ourselves and our planet, we need to change the way we do things. We need some tools. GCI is one tool to become more internally coherent as the videos show. When you go to the GCI care room to participate, you are asked to focus your positive energy on a specific situation, place, or group of people. It’s a form of meditation. It doesn’t take hours to do this, but it does take dedication to spend a few minutes each day to focus on the situation presented. When you do that, you heal not only yourself, but also the world a little at a time.

I hope you’ll watch these videos, and join Global Coherence Initiative, or find some other way to heal yourself. We don’t have a lot of time to turn things around you know. However, we can still change the world for the better, if we choose to do so.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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Keeping Promises to Myself

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” –Thomas Edison

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” –Confucius

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” –Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Fireworks at the Ocean

Fireworks at the Ocean

A year ago today, I heard a small voice tell me to begin Sage Woman Chronicles. After a year, I’m even more committed to continuing these weekly posts than I was a year ago. I’ve learned so much about myself. Isn’t that what a grand adventure is supposed to do? Some would say that sitting at home writing a blog, and a novel, as in my case, isn’t a grand adventure. But, in the novel, The Alchemist, which I just finished reading, the Shepherd learns to listen to his heart, and look for omens that send him off to the next step in his journey. For some people that looks really big. For others, like me it’s smaller. The point is that each of us has a purpose, and if we don’t fulfill that purpose, a piece of the big cosmic puzzle is missing.

I don’t mean to discourage any of you, but it took me about thirty years to hear my heart, and allow myself to become who I was meant to be. I’m a late bloomer. Now that I’ve overcome the inner critic, the fear of stepping into the unknown, and started my writing career, I’m so much happier. I feel free.

It hasn’t been easy. I had to do a lot of self-examination, and healing. Finally, I was ready to embrace the real me. And miraculously, one day I saw two roads stretched out in front of me, calling to me to make a decision. For years I’d buried my desire to be a writer. When I looked down the writer road, I was filled with elation. The other road made me feel like I had a stone in my belly.

I often wonder if other people get feelings in the pit of their stomach when they make big decisions. Are we so desensitized that we’re out of touch with our own feelings. I can understand if that’s how things are for you. It takes courage to face up to our emotions, the good and the bad. So many tragedies have happened over the last decades that most of us are shell shocked. But, here’s the thing, stuffing your feelings, and pretending they won’t resurface is a fallacy. The only way to move forward, and be happy is to face what happened good and bad. As my sister says, “You’ve got to throw out your trash”. I can speak from experience. If you throw out your trash, you’ll feel much lighter, life will become more joyous, and you’ll find the courage to follow your dreams.

Last week, I completed the second round of revisions on my novel. It’s about a woman named Jenna, who’s life crashes, causing her to face herself, and build a new life. She gets lots of help along the way. I’m including a scene in today’s post, which happens near the end of the book. I’m not sure if I’ll keep it in the manuscript. However, it sums up part of what happens because Jenna chooses to follow the omens that lead to the fulfillment of her dreams.

Roses from the Cast

Roses from the Cast

Jenna was glad that she had an entourage of spirit help the first time she came face to face with Fletcher and Mr. Drayton in court. Anger and hatred emanated in huge waves of black swirls toward her as she took the stand to testify. At first she was terrified. Never had she felt so much animosity from anyone. But, as she was being sworn in, she was encircled in a protective dome of light. Each time the black swirls shot out from the two men, they dissipated when they touched her protective dome. For months, and years, she’d felt slimy, and defiled after each encounter with these men. Now she knew why.

At one point during her testimony, she was asked to look over at the men to identify them. When she did so, she saw that they were surrounded by spirits trying to get through their barrier of hatred, to no avail. All of a sudden the dread of seeing them in person again faded, and the dream she’d had of them being sucked into the darkness, returned as vivid as it’d been that night all those months ago. She’d lived in their shut-off world before Black Friday. Thank heavens she’d found Morgan’s journals that had guided her toward the light. All she felt for Fletcher and Mr. Drayton was sorrow. How sad that they didn’t know all the love that awaited them.

When she’d given her testimony, she went back to her seat next to Jack. The trial was nearly over. From what she’d heard, the outcome was pretty clear. They’d know very soon now, as the closing arguments were set for the next day.

That night, at Ben and Joan’s apartment, Jenna told the others about her experience, and about her dream.

“Man, you have the most interesting experiences. My life seems so boring by comparison,” said Joan.

“Well, I wouldn’t recommend having your life crash down around you as a personal growth tool,” said Jenna. “But, I guess it all depends on how stubborn you are. I was pretty stubborn.”

“Fletcher and Drayton are even more stubborn than you were Sweetie,” said Jack. “It was nasty just being in the same room with them. I pity the jury. They must be getting an extra dose of hatred sent their way.”

“Maybe I don’t want to go tomorrow after all,” said Joan. “But, I told Mr. Winston, I wanted to be there to hear the verdict. He agreed.”

“I’ll be glad to have you there,” Jenna said.

“I wish I could go, but I’ve got a big meeting with a client,” said Ben. “I want to hear all the details.”

The next day the courtroom was packed. Jenna, Jack, and Joan got there early to be sure to get seats. The back of the room was full of reporters from all over the country. This was big news.

The prosecutors final remarks were short, and to the point. However, the defense attorney’s remarks dragged on. He tried to refute all the evidence that had been presented. According to The Oregonian articles Jenna had read about the trial, his efforts were futile. Finally, the jury was given their charge by the Judge, and court was adjourned while they deliberated. Joan took Jack and Jenna to a new coffee shop near the courthouse. Half an hour later, they were called back. The jury was ready to pronounce their verdict.

“I think that’s one of the shortest deliberations I’ve ever seen,” said Jack. “And I’ve testified in some open, and shut cases. This wasn’t an easy, or a short trial. They must have made up their minds at some point during the testimony.”

The three friends slipped into their seats just as the Judge was entering the courtroom. He banged his gavel for silence. The jury filed in.

“Mr. Foreman, have you reached a verdict?” asked the Judge.

“We have your Honor.” The Foreman handed a slip of paper to the Bailiff, who took it to the Judge. The Judge read it, then handed it back to the Bailiff, who took it back to the Foreman.

“Will the defendants please rise,” said the Judge.

The Draytons stood with impassive faces.

“Please read the verdict, Mr. Foreman.”

“We the jury find the defendants guilty on all counts,” said the Foreman.

The courtroom erupted into cheers, and chatter. Photographers took photos of the shocked faces of the two men. Jenna noticed that the the black swirls, which had emanated from them toward the jury, were quickly sucked in close to their bodies.

The Judge banged his gavel. “Silence.” When everyone was again seated, and quiet the Judge said, “Thank you jury for your verdict. I set the date for sentencing for a week from today. Court is dismissed.”

Jenna was surprised to find herself surrounded by photographers as she, Joan, and Jack left the courtroom.

“Oh oh,” said Joan. “I didn’t see this coming. I’ll run, and get the car so we can make a quick get away.” She pushed her way through the crowd, and disappeared.

Reporters were pointing microphones in Jenna’s face. The barrage of questions was so intense that she couldn’t make coherent sense out of anything anyone was saying. Jack with his arm around her, was shielding her as they made slow progress out of the courtroom, down the corridor, and down the courthouse steps. As they descended, they veered to the left to avoid the podium set up at the bottom with the Prosecutor standing in front of it about to hold a press conference. He whispered to one of his colleagues, who rushed over toward them.

“Mr. Ross would like you to be a part of the press conference. He says it was your testimony that brought such a quick verdict.”

“Tell him thank you, but no. I’m glad it’s over. He can take all the credit.”

“Okay, but he’ll be disappointed.”

As the young man ran back to the podium, Jack said, “Let’s get out of here quick, before he comes back.” He steered Jenna toward the corner closest to the parking garage exit. In a matter of moments, Joan was heading up the ramp. Jack opened the back door. Jenna, and he jumped in. Joan turned right into traffic.

“Wow, thanks for your quick thinking,” said Jenna. “I had no idea we’d be mobbed.”

“Me either,” said Jack. “Though I should have. Without you, the Draytons might never have been caught.”

“Where do you want to go?” asked Joan.

“Home to Roseburg.” said Jenna

California Coast

California Coast

Like Jenna, I hope you find the courage to follow your dreams. The world needs what you have to offer.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014
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The Myth of Sisyphus

“Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.”― Walter Anderson

Standing rocks and skyIf I had my drothers, I’d get up every morning and write until I couldn’t sit at the computer any longer. Then I’d go to the next thing that I love doing. But, that’s not the way life works. One thing I dislike to do with a passion, is house work. But, of course it needs to be done, over and over again. As I was beginning my spring cleaning chores this weekend, I was reminded of a long discussion in one of my literature classes when I was in undergraduate school. We were reading The Plague by Albert Camus, and during our discussion of the book, our instructor began talking about an essay Camus wrote about the myth of Sisyphus.

Sisyphus was King of Corinth. One day as he was out hunting, he saw the largest, most beautiful eagle he’d ever seen. He thought it was carrying something in it’s talons. When he returned home, he was told that his daughter had been carried away by a huge eagle. Suspecting that Zeus was the abductor, Sisyphus asked him for his help in recovering his daughter. Now Zeus took offense, because no one was supposed to know that he wasn’t perfect, and liked to seduce young human women. So, he condemned Sisyphus to Hades, to roll a rock up the mountain, only to have it roll down, and then to go to the bottom to roll the rock up the mountain again. During our discussion, our instructor asked us to consider this quote from Camus’ essay, “The struggle itself […] is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”

I didn’t understand the quote at the time, but I decided to contemplate its meaning. It took me many years. How can we find meaning in seemingly meaningless tasks? One day, as I was washing the dishes, we didn’t have a dishwasher in that house, I was looking out at an old and beautiful tree in the yard across the street. It’s leaves and branches were dancing in the wind. That’s when I understood what Camus meant by his assertion that struggle is enough to make us happy. At the time I was doing a chore, which I dreaded doing, but I had the benefit of looking at that beautiful tree whenever I was in the kitchen. Every activity is a double sided coin. There are pleasant and unpleasant aspects to it. When we go on vacation, it’s a magical time. But, each day, there are fewer days to enjoy away from the drudgery of our daily routines.

When we’re engaged in doing things we love, there are also aspects of it which are not so wonderful. For example, I love to write. Yet, there are times when the words don’t flow easily. The ideas that want to come out are not fully formed, or they’re buried under lots of layers of unhealed stuff. Not to mention the length of time it takes to produce the work. I’ve been working on my novel for four years, and though I’m nearing the end of the process, I still have lots of editing and revision work to do before it’s ready for publication.

The flip side is true for doing things we dread. As I was cleaning our bedroom this weekend, I was thinking of how nice it was going to be to sleep in a clean room. I had the curtains open, and periodically, I’d look out at the beauty of the view and wildlife. The joy of life is not in the tasks we must do to keep our lives going. It’s in taking time to appreciate the ordinary moments of connection, and the beauty around us. It’s also in knowing that we’re still here; we’re still alive, and can find meaning in everything that happens to us.

Camus would definitely disagree with me, because in his philosophy, life is absurd as is our search for meaning. But, the way I interpret his quote, is that to stay alive and struggle, is the ultimate revolt against the absurd in which we live. Now, I can’t say I agree with him about the world being absurd and without meaning. However, there are certainly absurd aspects to life. Nevertheless, I can say that I agree that as we continue with life we can find happiness, if we look for it, even amidst the mundane repetitive tasks we must do everyday.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014