Kodi Lee: America’s Got Talent

I just saw this story on the morning news. I found myself crying for the second time this morning, and it is only 8 a.m. I was so moved by the performance, I decided to share it on my blog.

The first time I cried today was when I read Jagati’s contribution to The Seeker’s Dungeon “From Darkness to Light” event, A Death Bed Dawning.

DEAR ME

Yesterday, I read a post at Neal’s Epiphany that I thought was incredibly powerful. I don’t know how Neal sees it, but using my psychotherapy frame, I see him as having written a beautiful letter to his inner child. Neal has graciously consented to me sharing his letter with all of you.

Neal's Epiphany

Dear Me,

You and I go way back, to the beginning. We’re one hundred percent connected in a way no one will–or could ever–understand. We’ve been there, standing together. Sometimes crying in the shower, sometimes snorting through our nose, but it’s always been you and me. Always and forever…

Or so it was supposed to be, but some time ago I left you–

I left you floundering on your own, to rely on love and encouragement and strength from others–from strangers–when it was I who should have held you up. When it was I who should have hugged you and praised you and appreciated you for the wondrous person you are–for all the beauty and life you bring to this world.

I seldom tell you how much I love you. How much I admire you. How beautiful and caring and intelligent and strong you are. That you are my hero.

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Amritapuri Christmas Play: The Loving Father

The Amritapuri Christmas play this year was based on Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son; with the main focus being on the love of the father. No  names are used in the parable, so for the play the father was called Jonas, and his sons were Jeremiah and Matthew. Matthew was the son who left home.

Here are a selection of photos from the production. (If you click on the gallery the photos will be enlarged.)

There were so  many beautiful songs. I’m going to share the audio from my two favorites. This first one, “I Search My Soul,” was written by my son Sreejit. In it, Jonas, Jeremiah and Matthew are singing simultaneously as they look within themselves.

Most of the songs in the play are original. There was one song though, that is commonly used by churches in plays about the prodigal son. Some of the words were changed to fit the script for this production, but it is basically the same as When God Ran written by Phillips, Craig and Dean.  The song is so moving. I still cry every time I listen to it.

I feel full of gratitude for everyone that worked together to create The Loving Father.

Thanks to Chaitanya who wrote the script and co-directed the play.

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Thanks to Devapriya who choreographed the dances.

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Thanks to Devika who co-directed the play with Chaitanya and played the role of Jesus.

Thanks to Jani who spends countless hours designing and sewing the costumes.

In most plays in India, the actors are not actually talking or singing. There is a group of musicians and singers who sit to the side of the stage who provide the instrumentation and the voices. So a special thanks to all of the musicians and singers who worked night and day to create and learn the dialogue and songs for this production.

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And of course endless thanks to all the actors and dancers as well as those who sewed costumes, translated, created props, prepared power point slides, and set up and ran the lighting… and to anyone I forgot to mention.

To see all of the posts in this Amritapuri series, click here.

On Living and Dying Day 8 by Alfred Poole

When I woke up this morning, I found an email notice in my inbox saying this post had gone up on The Seeker’s Dungeon. As I read through it, I received what was probably the biggest surprise in my life, and an incredible Mother’s Day present.

For those of you who don’t know, Al is my ex husband and father of Sreejit and Chaitanya. Our life has gone through so many phases. Sometimes our paths merged or were side by side, sometimes they were close together and for many years there was a lot of distance between us, even though we still worked together in raising our children.

I think this post is a great reminder to me, and others, that you never know where life’s road will take you and that healing of relationships can and does happen.

I feel very blessed.

The Seeker's Dungeon

Ode to the daffodil – a giver of light.

By Alfred Poole

Every spring in my city of Seattle, Washington, hundreds of children, adults and seniors take to the downtown streets and neighborhood centers with one task in mind: to freely give everyone they meet a daffodil and smile.

Unlike the hundreds of religious pamphlets, political treatises, and many product samples that are given away, daffodils are almost never rejected or discarded.  Even strangers to the custom, or untrusting personalities, find it difficult to resist the flower’s allure. For this humble yet magnificent flower is always the bearer of light, God’s gift to all of us to freely enjoy and embrace. 

The daffodil’s qualities and life lessons are extraordinary.  The flower can take root almost anywhere, rising on its seemingly vulnerable slender green stem in dark places, and unfriendly city sidewalks, as well as gardens all over.  Everywhere they bloom…

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There Is No “Other”

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In the mid 90’s, I read a book that really spoke to me. It was called “The Balkan Express: Fragments from the Other Side of the War” by Slavenka Drakulic. She is a respected journalist and commentator from Croatia. The publication contained a series of essays about the effect the Serbo-Croatian war had on her colleagues and fellow countrymen.

The portion of the book that I remember to this day is her essay “High Heeled Shoes.” In it she described her growing awareness that she had turned citizens of her country, even close friends, into “others.”

First, she saw that instead of seeing refugees as people who had escaped slaughter by the Serbians, she had started stereotyping them. “They are just sitting smoking, doing nothing. Waiting. Waiting for what? For us to feed them. They could work, there are plenty of jobs around, houses to be repaired or working the land.” She heard a woman on a train say “This city stinks of refugees” at a time when there were refugees sitting beside her.

As she continued to examine her own attitudes, she saw that she had reduced individuals to the category of “they” and from there to “second-class citizen” or “non-citizen.” She realized when we do this, they soon become “not-me” or “not-us.” We may feel some sense of responsibility for them, but it is the type of responsibility that we feel towards beggars.  “The feeling of human solidarity turns into an issue of my personal ethics.” We help only if we want to.

As her reflection continued, she wondered :

Perhaps what I am also witnessing is a mechanism of self-defence as if there were a limit to how much brutality, pain or suffering one is able to take on board and feel responsible for. Over and above this, we are often confronted with more less abstract entities, numbers, groups, categories of people, facts– but not names, not faces. To deal with pain on such a scale is in a way much easier than to deal with individuals. With a person you know you have to do something, act, give food, shelter, money, take care. On the other hand, one person could certainly not be expected to take care of a whole mass of people. For them, there has to be someone else: the state, a church, the Red Cross, Caritas, an institution.

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Out of opportunism and fear we are all becoming collaborators or accomplices in the perpetuation of war. For by closing our eyes, by continuing our shopping, by working our land, by pretending that nothing is happening, by thinking it is not our problem, we are betraying those “others” – and I don’t know if there is a way out of it. What we fail to realize is that by such divisions we deceive ourselves too, exposing ourselves to the same possibility of becoming the “others” in a different situation.

I still resonate with everything Slavenka Drakulic said in that essay. I know I put panhandlers in the “other” category. When I see someone whom I think might be about to ask me for money, a whole litany of judgments erupt within me. While I’ve worked on this issue, it is not gone. While I don’t believe I have the same negative judgments about the victims of war and the natural disasters that are occurring with increasing frequency in the world, I believe I am still seeing them as “others.”

I need to confront my judgments, help more, and remember to think of people as individuals who like me have needs and wants. I need to remind myself that we belong to the same human family. They are a part of me; we are one. No, I can’t fix all of the problems in the world, but I can do more than I am doing and it can be from a place of love, caring and inclusion rather than from some “better than thou” place within myself.

As I was completing this post, I remembered a part of a guided imagery meditation from “Legacy of the Heart: The Spiritual Advantages of a Painful Childhood.” by Wayne Muller. I will leave you with his words.

Observe how birth, suffering, illness and death touch each one of us who lives on the earth. This is the pain we all share, in which we all partake, the pain of being human that touches our common bodies, hearts and minds. You may say to yourself as each image arises. “I am your other self.”

Embrace each image with forgiveness, mercy and love, touching the pain your heart, touching all the beings who suffer with your heart. This is the inheritance of the family of creation. This is your family.

Feel the depth of connection to all beings as you allow the pain to be the doorway into community with your greater family. Feel the truth of that belonging. Gradually return to the awareness of your breath as it naturally flows in and out of your body; feel your body as a tiny cell in the larger body we all share.

 

Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu
May all beings in the world be happy.

 

Written for Challenge for Growth Prompts: Looking for the Good in Others.

Perfection is Not the Goal!

“We can be redeemed only to the extent to which we see ourselves.”
Martin Buber

I have a tendency to mull over past mistakes. I am even more likely to do that when I have made mistakes that hurt my children in some way. There are times I still cringe when I think of ways I treated them during their childhood and teenage years.

It is true that I, like most parents, did the best I could even though I didn’t have the knowledge or skills to do a perfect job of parenting. And like most parents, I was often too tired and worn down to always do the right thing. I have no doubt that I was a “good enough parent” but when I am “in my stuff” I expect myself to have been perfect.

For me, redemption comes when I see how they are in the world as adults. Sreejit is 40 years old and has lived in Amma’s California or India ashram since he was 19. He is committed to his spiritual path and to serving the world by supporting Amma’s charitable projects. He does this by being one of the main cooks for the Western Canteen in Amma’s Amritapuri ashram. In addition, he is a gifted musician, author, song writer, blogger and poet.

Chaitanya is 37 years old and has lived in Amma’s Amritapuri ashram since her 21st birthday. She too is avidly committed to her spiritual path and to supporting Amma in any way possible. She is a born leader, responsible for managing Amritapuri’s Western Canteen and Café. In addition, she is a gifted writer, director and choreographer of Broadway style musicals.  When people need support, they often seek her out.

Both of them are loved and respected by all who know them; and they are wise beyond their years. I have had numerous people tell me “If you ever question that you have done things right (in life), all you need to do is take a look at your kids.”

Both Chaitanya and Sreejit have told me how valuable it was for them to have had the life experiences they had as they were growing up. I regularly see them using knowledge, skills, and attitudes that have their roots in things they learned from their dad and me. They took those teachings and then developed them as they became the people they are today.

As Buber said, “We can be redeemed only to the extent to which we see ourselves.” When mistakes I made in the past come to mind, I need to remind myself to look at the bigger picture. My children learned from any mistakes I made and are better people because of them. My being perfect would not have even been in their best interest. I only need to look at the “fruit of my actions” to know I was a good parent!

 

Written for Dungeon Prompts: Redemption Song