Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Peace walks in the Labyrinth

“It is solved by walking.”
-St. Augustine of Hippo

A labyrinth is an ancient form found in many cultures and religions as far back as 5,000 years. Some labyrinths are made with rocks, some on landscape, and some on marble. There are labyrinths around the world—from Europe to New Zealand to the Philippines.

I checked out The Labyrinth Society and was so proud to find the we have several labyrinths in the country. One of which is at the Mirador Jesuit Villa (Society of Jesus' Retreat House) Phone: (632) 426-5941. They have an impressive-looking Classical Right-handed Knidos type of rock and garden labyrinth set in Baguio near the Lourdes Grotto.

Here at the St. George’s Episcopal Church in Antioch, there is a walkable nine-circuit French Cathedral Chartres-style labyrinth—a pattern developed for use in the 1200’s. Installed on asphalt by trained labyrinth facilitators, Craig and Jane Wirth in October 2004, the labyrinth continues to attract those who wish to connect with their deeper selves in the midst of our fast-paced and noisy outer world.

The labyrinth, versus a maze, has only one path that leads to the center and out again. There are no tricks, traps, or dead-ends. There are also no religious, age, status, or any requirements to walk the labyrinth.

“It’s always different for everybody,” said Jane. “You have to experience it to understand it. But once you walk the labyrinth, you will understand what it brings. For me, it was a mirror of my unrealized pain at first. It also helps me when I am stuck creatively. It is always a different walk—there is something new to learn and feel.”

Helen Curry, author of The Way of the Labyrinth: A Powerful Meditation for Everyday Life, said, “Labyrinths offer the opportunity to walk in meditation to that place within us where the rational merges with the intuitive and the spiritual is reborn. Quite simply, labyrinths are a way to discover the sacred in everyday life.”

Craig explains that, though the labyrinth “is not a magic tool,” it may be a magical avenue for self-expression. “Here is a tool to look at your own life. There is no right or wrong way to walk the labyrinth. In the many years of facilitating walks, we have sensed the joy and the suffering of the people. It has been very powerful.”

Members of the Labyrinth Guild of the Delta and The Labyrinth Society (TLS)—a non-profit world-wide organization providing educational information, project support and networking opportunities for people interested in labyrinths, past and present, Craig and Jane expound on the international efforts to share the healing labyrinth with a broader audience, specially with schools, hospitals, and prisons. TLS also created and maintains the World Wide Labyrinth Locator which will give everyone the opportunity to find labyrinths all over our planet.

The labyrinth at St. George has been used for candlelight walks for 9/11 memorials, for honoring Tsunami victims and survivors, and for the bombings in Beirut, among others—as a way to express concern and healing. Lately, Craig and Jane organized World Peace Walks. Held every third Sunday of the month, the walks are aimed towards achieving inner peace and sending peaceful thoughts to the world.

Walking for peace that Sunday was Kitty Hayes from Pittsburg. “Don’t worry much about the outcome. Just come and try it out,” she said. Also peace walking were Kathy Scopel from Antioch and John Fearn from Sherman Island. “The labyrinth is very compassionate. There is no judgement or comparison. I just offer myself the way I am,” said Fearn.

I send out prayers of peace and that all wars be resolved. I send out good wishes to my friends who are down or sick or lonely or poor. I think about my parents and my brothers and reflect on our lives together. I miss my brothers. I send happy thoughts to everyone and hope that our lives will continue to remain full in challenges and rich with wisdom and love. Let's not forget what is most important okay?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Child Sexual Predators

I have been very bothered about the the big news in the Bay Area--the confession of John Karr. After 10 years, he claims responsibility for raping, beating, and strangling to death child beauty pageant winner, 7-year old Jon Benet Ramsey--her body found in their home's basement. For a long time, there were no solid leads on the Ramsey case and her own parents, John and Patsy (who recently succumbed to cancer), lived as suspects to their own daughter's murder.

Seemingly mild-mannered John Karr was also a substitute-teacher in elementary schools in Petaluma and San Francisco. Everyone is outraged by the fact that he has been arrested for child-pornography charges, quit his teaching jobs and then fled to Thailand and conveniently disappeared from the twisted murder case. That he was even cleared to teach kids is the outrage. And that his mother has been confined in a mental institution and that Karr consulted sex change doctors in Thailand makes for a clear profile of a very disturbed person.

But the case takes on more twists and turns. Not many are convinced that Karr is the real culprit. Some doubt his real involvement in the murder, citing that he just wants notoriety. He claimed drugging Jon Benet before killing her and that he "loved her," and that "she died accidentally." No drugs were found in her body during the autopsy.His ex-wife claims Karr was with them during the Christmas night of Benet's murder.

Now that the case is so sensationalized, many photos of Jon Benet are shown. Equally bothering to me are her images that show her as fully-made up, with false perfect teeth for the uncanny smile that looks so mature, Dr. Phil kind of called it "creepy," and criticized the stage-mothers who put their children through this. Many news critics have emphasized the sexual element in those pictures and wondered what those beauty pageants were all about.

It is every parents' nightmare--to lose their children, and by this horrible circumstance is hell. It is so sad to note that there are such people as child predators and the thought of them hurting the helpless children is totally implorable. I guess if there are angels in this world, there are also demons.

Join me in praying for the many children in this world--that they may not be harmed but cherished to continue our species and to inherit our world.

Check out the CNN coverage. Make sure you know what is happening with your children's lives. Warn them about what is acceptable versus improper behaviour. Encourage them to tell you anything, everything. And please. . .listen, and pray.

Friday, August 18, 2006

when life gives you lemons

a repeat of the reason for my blogging. . .

a TV show not so long ago continues to inspire me. "the new heroes" aired in PBS last year featuring 14 people from around the world, the social enterpreneurs--that developed their businesses around solutions and resources to the very needy communities they were in.

albina ruiz found a way to address the inefficient garbage collection in peru. there was even a marketplace that had no garbage collection at all. unhealthy garbage festered. she gave the people in that community livelihood by empowering them to collect garbage more efficiently and environmentally safer than the government. now, the people prefer ruiz's services than peru's.

maria teresa leal founded a sewing coop for the very poor women in brazil to work from home and take care of their kids at the same time--recycling scraps of cloth into fashionable quilted fabric with knit and crochet accessories for designer fashion, now exported to europe.

muhammed yunus set up his grameen bank amidst the slums of bangladesh, providing micro-business with loans without collateral to the poorest women. grameen bank has been acknowledged as the single most important development in third world countries in 100 years.

i hope you can check out the site and meet the other 11 of my new heroes, not of wars or weapons, but of creative ideas and determination to change the world. maybe they will inspire you towards something greater, too! everyone has been made for some particular work and the desire for that work has been put into her heart. and aristotle said that "where your talents and the needs of the world cross, there lies your vocation."

my cousin, franco and his friends have founded ADVOCACY--a cause marketing agency that seeks to pursue CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) initiatives by linking companies with philippine NGOs. all the best to them!

so when life gives us garbage, we must segregate it. when life gives us cloth scraps, we should make a quilt.

how shall we change our world today?

click on the new heroes

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Book Club tag

I was tagged by Cathy to list my book favorites. Buti nalang, malakas siya sa akin!

One book that changed your life:

Conversations With God 1, 2, & 3 by Neale Donald Walsh

God is always with us because He is IN us. We should look for answers from HIM from within.

One book you have read more than once:

The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav

Harmony, Cooperation, Sharing, and Reverence for Life all lead to Authentic Power.

One book you would want on a desert island:

Survivorman's Journals

Did he compile all his survivor tips yet? (How to make a fire, shelter, which plants, roots, mushrooms are poisonous, how to trap rats for food, etc)

One book that made you laugh:

All my kids' books--when they read them to me!

One book that made you cry:

Bridges of Madison County
What Dreams May Come
(before they were made into movies)

One book you wish had been written:

Stone Soup for the World

A compilation of stories of kindness that proves that the power of One can make a big change.

One book you wish had never been written:

One book you are currently reading:

Dr. Phil's Self Matters and Family Matters

One book you have been meaning to read:

Dante's Inferno
The Tipping Point

Maybe you'll want to join in, too! Check out Cathy's books. Also, don't forget to check out Frugal Reading in my other blog!

See you there!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Towards a Prosperous Life

I covered the Assistance Day of the Power of Living Ministries Church. True to their mission of "educating, empowering, and equipping" the people into living lives that are prosperous and productive, they gave away resources, food, clothes and entertainment to the down-trodden.

It is hard to understand why there are poor people here in America, when every single opportunity is given to them--free public school, health care, housing/rental/food subsidy, and job-training and placement programs abound. But well, it is said that there are people here that have had bad luck or big debts,(that's the politically-correct term, versus medyo mga tamad ng konti) and need a leg-up. So they came to enjoy the Gospel Music and the sponsored goody-bags filled with potatoes, Frito Lays, See's Candy (!), school supplies, and health and dental certificates.

Here in the land of plenty, where God was effectively wiped out of their Constitution and their Pledge of Allegiance, where they cannot teach religion or morality in public schools, where people ask you cautiously whether you believe in God (Christ, even more controversial!) or not, before proceeding to have a conversation, it is refreshing to find a group devoted to sharing Christ's goodness and Word.

"Our greatest message is Love," said Pastor Christine Liddell. "That we love and support each other and reach out in love to everyone--regardless of where he came from or what he believes--because we want everyone to prosper and be in good health--as they prosper spiritually, too. It is not in God's plan that we suffer and be poor but that we should enjoy an abundant life."

The Power of Living Ministries conducts training towards employment and financial support to those in need.

"We have a parishioner that has found a job and recently purchased a home. We have had a homeless parishioner that is now a millionaire," said Liddell.

"Can you come to the Philippines?" I half-joked.

Friday, August 11, 2006

a safe flight in a time of terrorists

my son spent 2 months in manila and aug.10 was his very anticipated return to SFO. i prayed hard for his safe trip back home and that the customs would not open his baggage up as he brought in some disney movies from quiapo for his baby sister. he was to take the shuttle service to take him back home. while waiting, i picked up my other kids, waited for my husband to come from work, went to the grocery to buy my son his favorite steak, and started cooking dinner.

my son called from the shuttle service, signalling that he was out of the airport. just then, on CNN, flashed a discovered plot of liquid bombs to be assembled in flights to the USA. right away, world-wide airport security clamped down on carry-on bags--restricting all shampoos, gels, perfumes, and all other liquids (even baby's milk for awhile!). they eventually allowed prescription meds, insulin, baby milk, breastmilk (!), and nothing else--no celfones or I-pods either as they may be used as detonators. the idea being seemingly benign liquids could be mixed into a liquid bomb by conspirators. 24 arrests were made in london, many of the suspects had pakistani links.

traffic in and out of SFO airport was horrendous and flight delays were expected as everyone opened up their carry-ons and tossed expensive perfume and make-up, water and soda bottles, into garbage bins.

i could only sigh in relief and get down on my knees in prayer that my son had a safe flight back into the US and was guided out of there just in the nick of time!

Check out CNN for updates on what has become of air travel in a time of terrorists.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

while crocheting

crocheting is one of my most favorite things to do. though i was no good at it at grade school home economics class, i picked it up quite late when my tita bing offered to teach me how to make glass holders she used to give us as christmas presents. another aunt, tita ceci, taught me how to read patterns. i have been hooked ever since. this is a picture of a bedspread i put together for my daughters, inspired by our local "warm up america" chapter. donating squares is one of my best things to do.

before you think i am turning into a granny on a rocker, hold on. crochet is not an old thing at all. when the hands are busy, the mind wanders off. when i crochet, i am transported into another world. in this world, my spirit awaits. as my fingers are now graceful with the hook and as i knot the thread or yarn in repeated patterns, my mind flits away into a dimension of quiet. alone with myself is where i find my wise voice, the one that drowns in the physical and busy, noisy world--but it is also the voice that is steady, loving, and always waiting for me, eloquent, ageless, and timeless when i want to listen.

so my spirit and i tell stories like old friends. we go through my life so far together, like a slideshow. there is no judgement, no guilt. we just go through a slideshow and skip it if it's too overwhelming to process at the moment. i realize my spirit is kind and she doesn't scold or scoff, and the insight she offers is always genius.

i realize i am closest to my Creator when i am one with my spirit.

while crocheting, i thought of a business. while crocheting, i thought of writing. while crocheting, i heard a message to teach a quilting class from the scraps i had from my clothing business. while crocheting, i thought of saving the earth. while crocheting, i realized that i haven't spent one-on-one time with one of my kids and that the other day, she seemed forlorn. while crocheting, i realized the kind gestures of my husband the other day but at that time, i was too busy to recognize. and so while crocheting, i realized that i was loved by my husband and my children, and how lucky i am to be with them, how beautiful life is.

paradoxically, while crocheting, i am free from body and boundaries. i am not a mother, wife, daughter, friend. i am just me. sometimes the possibilities are infinite, its profoundly overwhelming because i may be vaguely shown the answers to my life's problems and i am overwhelmed! and so my spirit gives me a chance to take it or judge it as impossible, or to leave it to settle in for another time. to be at this state is incredibly peaceful--my elementary words cannot articulate a dimension with none.

i am not only restored by crochet, i am recharged. sometimes, i can crochet way til midnight when inspired by the Holy Spirit. to make something out of balls of thread makes me feel alive. and the conversations i have when i am so near the Lord sure beats going to mass on sundays when no one is listening to the priest.

it has been said that crochet is the new yoga. now i know why. it is also a venue towards deep prayer for me.

Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way, linked creativity and spirituality by showing that a higher power connects the human creativity with the creative energies of the universe. she said that it is when one is creative that God speaks to her.

i hope you find your venue to being with your spirit. sometimes it could be walking or running alone, music, writing, painting, beading, scrapbooking. it was albert einstein who said "imagination is greater than knowledge." try to leave enough time in your life to do something that makes you happy, satisfied, even joyous--you will find the answers you are looking for.

for all crocheters and knitters out there, check out Save the Children and find out how you can save premature babies survive by stitching a bonnet to keep them warm.