You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘risk’ tag.

Yesterday was a trying day.  It was one of those days when it seems like everything that could drain my energy, did.  So like most people I took a look back to see what it was that seemed so draining and it was no surprise to me.  My day started off amazing but one incident was all it took to remind me what the world is really like.

Most of you that know me personally know that my work as a Chaplain is not the only thing that I do.  For those of you who I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting in person yet, I do a lot more than my work at Hendricks Chapel.  I have a wonderful husband whom I should say takes care of me, we have a small 56 acres to care for and I own my own business – a small metaphysical shop in Oswego, NY.  Beyond that I write, study and teach all the time.  My time is stretched, but in a good way and I wouldn’t really change any of it.  I enjoy my life without regrets and with a multitude of smiles! But yesterday was a reminder of the work that is left in front of me, in front of all of us.  Yesterday the world walked through the door of my shop in the form of an old woman with a question.

184312_719247819725_28406679_36325422_539982_nI had watched her standing outside of my front window looking at the statue of “the lady” in the window.  Finally she came in from the cold and approached me at the counter.  Her question was “who is that in the window?”  I knew the look, the tone, the accusation and I answered her “that is the moon goddess.”  “Who” she asked and I repeated that it was the moon goddess.  She told me that at first she thought it was a statue of the Virgin Mary but had looked and saw that her lap was empty, there was no Jesus, and she was confused.  After all, this is the beginning of the celebration of Christmas which is the celebration of the birth of Jesus.  Her face was harsh and so were her words.  She continued on that people have forgotten that the real reason for this time of year is to celebrate the birth of our lord and savior Jesus and they don’t go to church to say thank you.  She explained she had disowned her daughter for not going to church anymore and thought it a right punishment.  And then she asked the big question: “Is that a mockery of the Virgin Mary?”  I told her no, it wasn’t, it is the Moon Goddess and not a mockery at all.  She looked back at the window, the Goddess who holds in her hands the offerings of many, and then stated I needed to take it out of the window.  People would be offended by mocking the Virgin after all, especially this time of year.  Besides she said, we all have to answer to god including her but stated she had all the right answers.

Yes, I had forgotten, or at least had not been reminded in a while, what the world is like and apparently I needed a reminder in the form of an old woman.

As she walked out of the shop she turned and looked at me and the Reiki Master standing with me and told us to have a Merry Christmas.  I wished her warmth for the night and blessings of the season and then she was gone.  With her, hate and ignorance left as well but in her wake she left anger and painful reminders that while a great deal has changed nothing has changed.

The anger dissipated quickly but the reminder has remained.  But it is different from before.  The reminder is that a lot of work yet to be done is waiting.  It was a reminder that I cannot change the world, but I can control how I respond to hate when it walks up to me.  But mainly it was a reminder of the need to create more space where ignorance can be challenged and understanding can be fostered so that acceptance can be achieved.

So to the little old woman who walked in to my shop – may the blessings of the Goddess be with you that she might teach you the compassion you so desperately need in your life.  To the old woman’s daughter and everyone else – may the blessing of patience be yours.  The earth moves slowly but change does happen in time including the changing of minds.

Advertisements

We fight many battles in our life; sometimes the price seems more than anyone could bear, but we do it anyway.  Today the U.S. flag was lowered in Iraq, the battle mission complete, and I personally say thank you to all of the troops that served, their families that served with them and most certainly to those that paid the ultimate price.

Today I received an email from the office of the President, a mass mailing type email to be sure that encouraged everyone reading it to take a look at the image and the timeline of the Iraq war since he took office.  It also encouraged everyone to take a moment to say thank you to the troops and their families.  And so I opened the link to the timeline and the images, but I didn’t really care about the timeline I just wanted to look at the images and remember.  I wanted to remember because something as horrific as war should never be forgotten so that it can be repeated again.  But I have to say that I found more in those images than I thought I would.  I found a very small symbol that change is happening albeit slower than what we sometimes want.

What did I see?  I saw the gravestone of a fallen soldier, a fallen Pagan soldier.  How do I know this?  Because on this stone was a pentacle to represent his faith.  Sometimes we forget what we have fought for and what we may have to fight for in the future.  This was a reminder of why it is I do what I do.  So may the gods bless this fallen soldier who reminded me and may the gods of those who fought with him bless them as well.  I encourage you to take a look at the images regardless of your belief and remember it is the freedoms to be who we are openly that so many have paid the ultimate price. 

You can find the images at the following link:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/iraq?utm_source=email137&utm_medium=image&utm_campaign=iraq

 

 

Time for an update on the progress made so far in fundraising for the Interfaith trip this Spring.

First, I want to thank everyone and the generosity that they have shown during the past few months.  The energy and effort have worked hand in hand to create the prosperity necessary to see that this trip become a reality. The manifestation of funding has been incredible but we are not yet finished.

We are close, between now and March 1st we need to raise our last $2900.  So how are we going to do that?  Well, a couple of ways and this is where, once again, you can help.  We will be doing the following:

  1. Everyone is encouraged to contribute directly if you haven’t already.  We never turn down funding.
  2.  “Day of Divination” on campus where students can come and enjoy the divining skills of the campus pagans. 
  3. A psychic fair held for the community at large.

Anyone can send their contribution through PayPal.  Just log in at www.paypal.com and hit the “send money” button.  Use the email address COTGCampusPagans@gmail.com as the email to send funds to.  This will put the funds directly into the account setup for the student’s fundraising. 

The “Day of Divination” is the result of students wanting to hold a psychic fair of their own on campus.  I mean just imagine – going to class and then off to get a bite to eat, in the process you stop in the lounge and have a tarot reading or some other sort of reading along the way.  The cost will be a donation of any size.  The students will be doing the readings, I will as well, and in the process we will be talking and educating about divination versus fortune-telling. This will be held January 28th in the Nobel Room for you students that are reading.

Our psychic fair will be held February 5th, 5-8 pm, at the May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society (3800 E Genesee Street, Syracuse, NY).  I’m very excited about this particular event.  There will be several readers available during the entire evening.  You can choose from runes to tarot and a few other methods of divination.  Along with the readers we will be holding an auction for several different items.  One of the main contributors is Dryad Design of Vermont.  Through their generosity we will be auctioning several pieces of statuary and jewelry.  You can see the photos of the items below.  If you aren’t able to come to the evenings events (like you live in Kansas) but want to bid, send me an email and I’ll make sure that you are in the running for the piece.  We also have handcrafted offering bowls (small) from our friend Raven, tie dye pieces generously donated by Luna Moonflower, and a tarot party for six to just name a few.  Dessert will be on hand for purchase.  That’s right.  Cookies, cake, and other goodies to feast on while you wait to have a reading!  At 7 pm we will be entertained by a troop of belly dancers to round out the evening. 

So one way or another we will get there.  I ask that if you can contribute.  This really is an important event, one that should not be passed by.  The students have worked so hard to get this far it’s time to just get this done.  We are close; $2900 is just a step away.  The full amount is due March 1st so please help if you can.

My husband asked me yesterday if I had written or commented on the “Burn a Koran” day in Florida. I hadn’t, at least not in writing. I have commented on it to family and friends verbally but not here in print. Why? I wasn’t sure until this morning when I read one more article on the growing hatred towards Muslims and the Islamic faith within the United States.

The article wasn’t about the Park 51 site; it was about the mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The article was from the view of one Muslim woman (http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/09/13/muslim.tennessee.mosque/index.html?hpt=Sbin). It outlined the reasons behind the decision to build a mosque in a town that already had a large Muslim community. It also showed the form bigotry and hatred toward the Muslim community has taken in this city. It is sad, it is ignorance, it is wrong for such actions to be happening let alone to be tolerated and, in many cases, condoned. This is why I chose to write… finally.

I must say something before I continue. Please feel free to be offended by what I am about to say. Feel free to disagree with me. Feel free to say that I am wrong or that I am in a position different than you and I am able to give such opinions. Feel free to say that my situation is unique and different from yours and therefore you cannot say or do what I am about to suggest. Now on to the rest of what I wish to say:

If you do not speak up against such bigotry and hatred then you are condoning it and allowing it to continue and grow.

As Pagans we know what it is to be condemned on misinformation and outright lies. We know what it is to lose jobs, lose family members, lose friends do to irrational fear of the unknown. We understand what it feels like to have people whisper innuendos behind our backs. I myself am no stranger to the finger-pointing, derogatory jokes, or public humiliation by those I thought were my friends. If there was ever a community that could relate to the current situation American Muslims find themselves facing it is Pagans.

Hollywood and the media paint broad stroke pictures of groups; we have been the victims of this phenomenon as long as a story could be told. It is the same story playing out with a different group being targeted. And why? Is it because they do not believe the same thing? Or is it because “they” look different? The last time I remember in this country that a group of people were singled out because they could possibly be a threat to national security was when American Japanese were placed in internment camps. That should never happen again. If we wanted to target people who are a threat, then go after the individual. Remember Timothy McVeigh? He was a home-grown, white boy who decided to kill a lot of people based on his own political doctrines. But everyone agrees that he did not represent the majority of Americans. So if we extrapolate a little, the few radical men who attacked on September 11, 2001 obviously represent all of Islam. There could be individual thought in “that group.” People! Wake up! Speak up!

Hate and bigotry is wrong, flat-out wrong. It makes no difference where it comes from or where it is pointed. It is wrong when it is directed towards Pagans, Muslims, Jews, Blacks, Whites, or whatever group you wish to put into that sentence. I know the fear that the woman in the article speaks about. The fear that someone will find out, what will they do, how will they react. No one should live with that fear, not in this country, not anywhere.

In reading the article I was reminded of a poem written by Martin Niemoller. I think that it is something that we should all be reminded of:

“First, they came for the Jews. But I was not a Jew, so I did not speak up.

 Then they came for the communists. But I was not a communist, so I did not speak up.

Then they came for the trade unionists. But I was not a trade unionist, so I did not speak up.

And when they came for me, There was no one left to speak out for me.”

Please, please, speak out. If you don’t who will?

The other night I had the pleasure of gathering with several women to listen to Z Budapest speak.  It was more of a conversation than a lecture and it was interesting to see the varying takes on “where do we go from here.”  As I sat there I reflected on a recent trip to Florida that I and my husband took and began to understand the gift that I have been given.  It is the gift of moving forward, of moving past fear, of taking risks, or more to the point I have been given the gift of finding support and comfort in my environment.  Not all pagans have been able to find this gift; at least not yet.

I had forgotten the fear of being outed, of not having a family/spouse who is supportive of my choices, of not having a circle of friends to share thoughts with, and having to wonder if I am all alone.  In Florida I listened to people at a gathering talking about not being able to display items of their faith in their homes for fear of repercussions from their spouses.  The other night I listened to women talk about how difficult it is to gather.  For some apathy of others was the enemy, but for many it was that people are afraid – afraid of what varies, but still afraid. 

I thought back and realized that I had moved beyond the fear a while ago.  I had decided that I would no longer let the bigotry of others shape how I lived my life.  So I began to take risks.  I began to wear a pentacle, I had things in my home that seemed to me a little more pagan than before, I began to speak out and I began to stand up for others.  Then I decided to take a very large risk – I sought out groups to circle with.  I was looking others of a like mind.  Once found, I met/circled with several different groups and began to understand that not all pagans think alike nor do they practice their faith tradition in only one way.  I was now on a mission of discovery.  I was discovering my faith and myself at the same time. 

Then came the rewards, yes rewards.  That is the wonderful thing about moving past fear and into taking risks.  Eventually you experience rewards.  Not always, sometimes our risks lead to pain.  I have had my share of shunning, my share of people no longer trusting me, instead their friendship turned to fear, uneasiness, and pity.  They don’t come around, they don’t let their children talk to mine, they try to save me from my misguided beliefs.  But I continued on my path, because it was/is my path to walk.  But back to the rewards.  One might think that becoming a chaplain at a major university is the great reward but they would be slightly wrong.  Yes it is a wonderful thing, but what it represents is even greater.  I get to help create change.

I see the change everyday in little things, but the other day I was given a beautiful example of how it takes time and generations sometimes to receive the rewards.  At my home a new coven circled for the first time.  It was a circle of young families and my daughter along with her family are a part of it.  As we stood there in the circle about to call the elements in my daughter looked at me and said “you know Emma tells them at school she is a witch.  They tell her no, but she corrects them and says oh yes I am to a witch.”  She understands, there should be not fear of shame in understanding who you are and expressing it to the world.  That is the greatest reward, the greatest gift.

So what does it all mean?  We all have fear.  What that fear is only we know as individuals.  The key is to find the courage to move past the fear, not necessarily to get rid of it, but to move past it so that we find the courage to take a risk to over come our fear.  Sometimes we will fail in our attempt, but those times that we succeed we need to hang on to feeling that comes with it.  That feeling will fuel our next risk taking adventure and allow us to see the rewards that are out there to be gained.  Sometimes we need nothing more than the words of a child to remind us – we have a right to express who we are.

%d bloggers like this: