Houses Of Worship

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This is St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans. I took this picture while on an academic-related trip there in January of last year.

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Now minus my baptism as a newborn and recognition of Christmas and Easter (the birth and resurrection of Jesus), I’m not particularly Christian in any serious way. However, I do have a special place for houses of worship. They have a special energy to them that cannot be ignored. So I was looking forward to entering this Catholic house of worship…where Pope John Paul II once was a guest.

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The whole scene inside took my breath away…

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You enter a house of worship and you feel the power of the Creator emanating from the room.

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Setting Goals for Yourself…the Sky Is the Limit

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How many of you out there set achievable, measurable goals for yourself? No matter how you do it, whether through affirmation, prayer, visualization, etc, making goals for yourself can give a sense of direction and control over your life you might not otherwise have. As the meme states, the tragedy of life does not lie in not reaching our goals, the tragedy of life is not having goals to reach for. Without goals, life is a directionless mess where we blow based on the whims of external forces. Ever since I rediscovered my spirituality after some years of dormancy, I have renewed my commitment towards goal setting. Having faith in God, Goddess and of course, myself, I pray and affirm what I want, go about everything possible in the material world to make it happen and let the Universe do the rest. And it has already served me well. I feel like I’m more in control of my life than ever before. Life isn’t perfect and not all goals are reached, but even then as the saying goes, “One door closes, another one opens”. Some goals may not be in the cards to be reached, but other goals you weren’t even striving for are achieved, making the work not in vain.

Overarching lesson….reach for the stars. You might just make it to the Moon.

Life Update Time…and other tidbits

Life is going pretty well. At least I have nothing really to complain about. School is off to a good start, the weather is very cold, but tolerable (no more snowstorms at least) and overall I feel like life is going the direction I want it to go. Prayer, meditation and setting goals for myself have really calm anxieties and bring about more internal peace. I don’t think it’s so much that the world around me has changed, but more I’ve changed how I perceive the world and how I deal with issues facing me in the world. And in doing so, I attract what I need out of life and push away what I don’t need. It’s a good feeling of quiet confidence that drives me now. I woke up to the rising sun this morning, quietly in my mind gave my morning prayer to God and Goddess, got up and felt prepared to take on the day. Homework, lunch, work, dinner, more studies…I can handle that. It helps now that I have a part-time job related to my career field that I feel good about going to everyday now (a prayer answered). The otherwise mundane life now feels, less mundane and more exciting. I mean, what’s more exciting than realizing that you’re on planet Earth, you’re living, you’re participating in civilization and can make something of yourself? I never forget how blessed I am to live where I live and have the opportunities that I have. Although, I would hope no matter where I could’ve been born and ended up, I could somehow contribute something positive to myself and others.

I thought I’d share this video with you guys. I really like this chica…she’s a model who’s also Pagan and lives in Britain. She does lots of Youtube videos, including videos on Witchcraft, Wicca and Paganism. Plus, she’s just damn charming. In this video, she talks about spiritual slumps which is very fascinating.

I’ve always had a fair amount in common with Paganism since high school (polytheism, recognition of seasonal and lunar cycles, the oneness of deity and nature). Although, I still have some connections with Christianity (celebration of Christmas and Easter, the influence of Christian thinking via family and the Bible…granted, I haven’t read much of the Bible in years). At the end of the day, I don’t really give myself an identifier, although I’m probably much closer to some type of eclectic Paganism than Christianity.

(Alert: Includes mature content of a sexual nature. Reader discretion is advised)

Last night, I made love with CT for the first time in 5 days. We hadn’t done so because she, like so many people lately was unfortunate enough to catch the nasty flu bug which was been going strong this year. It was so bad, we actually slept in separate rooms so as to avoid my exposure to it (we’ll see if I still catch it lol). But last night, she was feeling up to it, so we decided to make love. CT likes to tell me that it feels just a little different every time, but it felt quite different to me last night. There was an extra rush of energy, an extra need and desire for closeness, just something extra which I think came from the fact that (for us anyways) a lot of time had passed between sexual encounters. Of course, I felt completely merged and one with her at the height of the experience and that’s when I realized how much I’d missed her in that way. I’ll always be amazed by the powerful energy and spiritual connection sex brings with it. Makes me appreciate it as a true expression of love. I’ve had sex just for the sake of pleasure before and while it was physically enjoyable, emotionally and spiritually, the contrast is like night vs. day in terms of satisfaction. In fact, I always like I was missing something. Nowadays, I don’t think I could ever go back to having sex that way after having experienced sex as a spiritual act of love. It’s the act of God and Goddess becoming one, the act which conceived the Universe. It’s beautiful and so much more satisfying when not just body, but the mind and spirit are a part of it as well.

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Martin Luther King Jr. – Letter From a Birmingham Jail

My Dad introduced me to this as a kid. One of the great documents of the Civil Rights Movement. Please give it a read for your MLK Day 🙂

“You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.”

http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html

I have an indirect connection to MLK Jr. One of my great uncles was a Congressman who helped raise and funnel money to MLK’s voter registration drives in the Deep South and knew him personally. I just rediscovered this connection last year while reading a book written as a memorial to the life of another one of my great uncles who was a well-known black historian and former high school teacher in my home town. Knowing your history can be uplifting and enlightening. Take today as an opportunity to learn more about black history, American history and your own family’s history.

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Artistry and My Desire to Find Spiritual Enlightenment

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I am an amateur artist. I have a years-long history playing the violin, including a brief stint as a violin performance major (although I haven’t touched it on regular basis in several years, I can still get some notes out and remember proper technique), I’ve dabbled in music composition as recently as last year (mostly 12 tone, free improvisation and graphic notation music…students of music will know what I’m referring too) and this year have started really getting interested in poetry and photography.

Art to me is the portal into the spirit of another person. When I see an artistic photograph, read a poem or story, see a painting, etc, I can sense on some deep level the emotions and thoughts of that person. I connect with that person and that’s a wonderful experience. To think I’ve peered into the souls of people like Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn,  Mozart, Beethoven, Ravel, Cage and more either through listening or performing their works. Even sitting in my usual coffee shop and seeing the paintings on display I’ve gained more of a appreciation for as their style and choice of subject, etc all reflects upon them as a human being. Art is the act of taking mundane things and making something recognizable out it, but with a unique touch. Anyone can make random noise, but how about constructing a melody (although John Cage sort of brought to the limits what could be considered ‘music’ with pieces like “4 minutes, 33 seconds”, which did have an artistic statement, nevertheless)? How about taking some random words and making a story out of it? Or taking the world and capturing it in a photograph and video that speaks to people? Art is a form of spiritual communication as it connects us to each other at a higher level. I feel that way right now listening to beautiful jazz music on Pandora and I felt that way performing music by the common-practice classical masters. I think the arts shouldn’t be short-changed in education because it is literally the path to our souls and the souls of others and is an important expressive aspect of humanity and civilization. It can serve as communication between cultures and even governments hostile to each other. It can bring people together if we so choose.

If you have children, always support their artistic growth, it will serve them well in an otherwise stressful world where the soul is sometimes strangled to get through the daily routines of life. I started playing violin in 1993 (so now 20yrs) and performed in middle school, high school and two years at college-level and it opened up a whole new world to me. Although I don’t play nearly as much anymore (the last time I picked it up was in April; my last semi-professional performance with an orchestra was in 2004), I appreciate the arts in general a lot more than I probably would’ve otherwise.  Enjoy the beauty of it all, or better yet, participate and learn an artistic skill. You’ll be very happy you did.