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Memorial Day Revisioned

Today is set aside to remember those who have died while serving in the armed forces. The precept is to honor those who lost their lives while fighting to make this a better world for the rest of us. That is an aspect of Memorial Day but to the people who are left behind that loved them this day can be one of many that are challenging. Perhaps a transition to marking this day in a slightly different way may provide deeper meaning to those remain here.

To the ones now gone we offer this. While we value your dedication and sacrifice for our country what we miss is your smile, your laughter, your touch. Today let us remember all of the unique things about you. We think about the relationship we shared and how our lives were richer for having you in it. Recollections of times shared, of details small and large that were distinctively you, take precedence in our minds. You are not forgotten. We hold you with us in our memories. Our memorial is to the place you will always hold in our hearts. This is the true essence of Memorial Day for those who knew and love you still.

I send love to everyone who has lost someone dear in the service of this country. May comfort find you this day.

1000 Years

The majesty of Redwood Forests in California never fails to impress me. It is what lingers long after my visit that has me pondering the feeling they impart. If you had occasion to walk among these ancient ones it may be that you felt it too. There is a gentleness that is combined with strength or solidness that permeates not only me but the entire forest in which they dwell.

I am finding difficult to express in words something that can only be experienced. Here among trees, that have lived for longer than we can imagine, a serenity fills the air. Some of these giants have been here for 1000 years or more. The sensation of their presence and their lifespan has me reflecting on the relatively short lifespan of humans. It seems that we are continually busy, nearly always reactive and wound up in swirling emotions.

If you stand in one place for a 1000 years maybe something happens that gives life to what I feel when I am with these old trees. For sure some things fall away. Striving toward some goal, even the light, is a moot point when you’ve been in the heavens for so long. The push and pull of life, the reactions and emotions, give way to being. Maybe that’s what I feel with the Redwoods. A deep presence of being. They seem to just be and in that being I wonder if they are connected to all life, past, present and maybe even future. Oh sure, there are teachings throughout the world that instructs us that we are all connected in this way. The difference I think is that the ancient Redwoods know it and live it. Does it take 1000 years to learn to be? I plan to spend more time with these sacred beings to discover all I can.


You are invited to join me on MAY 31, 2014 at Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church, Children’s Chapel from 12:30pm – 4:30pm (PDT) for Red Tent Moonlodge Gathering: Summer Teachings! The church address is: 55 Eckley Lane, Walnut Creek, CA 94549. Register via Eventbrite:

Women of all ages come to rest, renew and remember your sacredness. Join Shelly O’Connell as she shares Traditional Women’s Teachings with you. We will dance, drum and join together on a journey to embrace the true radiance within each woman.

Shelly received the Traditional Women’s Teachings from Native Elders. “These teachings completely changed and enriched my life!” she writes. Come and learn the original teachings regarding women, their “Moontime” and their importance within the tribe or community. Shelly says of the teachings, “Following the Traditional Women’s Teachings centers you and allows you to step into your wisdom.” Are you ready to step in to your own wisdom?

Women ages thirteen and older are invited to attend. Workshop participants will bring one symbol of yourself as a woman to place upon the altar which we will create together. Include a journal for notes and homework. Suggested attire is comfortable clothing; long dresses or skirts, if you like, to remind you of your femininity.

This will be a four hour workshop offered each season, on or around the full moon; Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter with teachings related to each season. You may attend one workshop, a few or all, it is up to you. This workshop may be offered each month. Suggested donation of $25.

Seeing with New Eyes

If you’ve been lucky enough to encounter a new-born or recently born baby you have seen their wonder with the world. To them everything is new. There is more than a simple glance or looking at the world around them. It’s as if they are soaking it all up. Babies, especially brand new ones, are totally open. They are curious and filled with wonder all at once.

Watching and interacting with them can teach us so many things about how we approach life. Just how open to the experience of life are we? I’m afraid the answer is: not so much. Rarely do I encounter someone who is unguarded, curious and filled with wonder. I include myself in that description. We all have closed ourselves off in some way. I’m not sure quite why. Perhaps we strive to hold ourselves back from the pain that life can sometimes bring. I am discovering that while we guard from the pain, we also miss the wonder of being. Babies have this joy of being intuitively.

I’ve met a couple of people who have this way of being. They are the ones who have been to the bottom, the depths of despair and found a way out. They too see with new eyes. Life is not taken so much for granted. They have learned that you can’t always guard yourself from living, from pain, from the depths, so they don’t try to any more. These people know that they can rise from the ashes and experience life in a new way. Such people are wide open because when they were broken, light permeated all of their being. They can no longer remain closed, they chose not to be that way. By doing so they see things most of us miss. They see the wonder, the beauty and feel the radiance of life in everything. By being open and seeing with new eyes they become full.

I find myself studying them and babies as I begin to open more fully. I challenge you to let down your guard too. Who knows what we might find!