Sunday, November 30, 2014


            I'm grateful to be here in the 186th District Courtroom at the Bexar County Courthouse this morning for what is proving to be one of the most challenging, but joyful and life-affirming events I've ever witnessed.
            Zet and I are here to testify on the behalf of William White-Volk, who's been an integral part of the Celebration Circle community for the past fifteen years. He and his mother, Ellen White, have long since become family friends, and my eyes get teary as I look at Will and remember the sweet-faced, five year-old who used to hug me around the knees every Sunday morning. Now he's taller than me and all dressed up in a brand new, dark blue suit, pacing up and down the hallway, facing the stark possibility of receiving a five-years-to-life sentence for a first degree felony charge of aggravated assault, to which he has plead no contest.

            Will, Ellen, Zet and I met with his lawyer earlier this week to practice every step of this morning's hearing, and we feel pretty good about his chances, but today feelings are tense as we greet each other in the hallway. Fortunately, Will and Ellen are not alone, because twenty-five other folks from the Celebration Circle community and their family have come here on a cold, wet, Thursday morning to surround them with love at this difficult time. Seeing this crowd in the courtroom makes me proud to be part of such a loving, affirmative community.
            It's been almost a year since Will was arrested for his role in an ugly incident involving drugs, guns and money, that left him in a coma for four days. It was the horrific result of a series of poor choices he'd made during his last year in high school, leading him to people and places that were totally inconsistent with the warm, loving home in which he'd been raised by his sweet, smart mother. Fortunately, Ellen had the courage to embrace "tough love" and leave him in county jail, rather than bail him out while he was awaiting sentencing for his crime.
            As difficult as it was for both of them, those three months behind bars forced Will to take a deep look inside himself - as well as a long, hard look around the cellblock - and to begin making a new set of choices. My clergy visitation privileges allowed me to serve as a conduit for the outpouring of love and support that he received from his family and Circle friends during this period. It was heartbreaking, but also heartwarming, to witness Will's long, hard process of accepting responsibility for his actions, making amends and creating new goals for himself.

            Since being released on his own recognizance in February while awaiting trial, he's been working diligently to meet all the court's requirements, attending classes at San Antonio College, finding a full-time job, putting in many hours of community service and creating a positive vision for his life. Even so, we are all fully aware that he could still be sentenced to some serious jail time today, and that possibility hangs heavy in the air.
            The judge remains stone-faced when presented with the report of Will's hard work, along with the thick stack of letters of commendation that have been written on his behalf. But when the defense attorney asks all those in the courtroom that are here to support Will to stand, the judge is clearly amazed to see twenty-five people rise in silence. The room goes absolutely still, as not just Judge Herr, but all of the many legal professionals who have been milling around the room handling various details of the thirteen other cases being processed here today, turn and stare in astonishment at this powerful show of love and support.

            The scene remains frozen for several long beats, while the judge clears her throat and deliberates before giving Will the most favorable outcome he could have hoped for under the circumstances: ten years of deferred adjudication. Presuming that he continues on his current path, the charges will be completely removed from Will's record in ten years, and quite possibly sooner. This is great news.
            There's no way to measure what effects our presence, our letters and our support may have had on the judge's decision. Yet there is hardly a dry eye in the room, as she asks the group to stand again, orders Will to turn around and look directly into his supporters' faces, inviting him to feel the importance of living up to the faith that has been placed in him by his community who are holding him accountable.

            A few minutes later, we're all hugging each other joyfully in the hallway, where it definitely feels like Thanksgiving has arrived early. There's so much to be thankful for. As tragic and difficult as this process has been for everyone involved, it has helped Will and Ellen come to a much more peaceful, positive place in their relationships with themselves, each other and their community. And the Circle family has certainly been strengthened, not just by Will's personal growth, but our collective growth in faith, and a willingness to demonstrate that faith in action.
            It's one thing to talk, sing and study about conscious love and Oneness, but it's even more powerful to see those concepts make such a concrete difference. And I, for one, am deeply grateful to be able to participate in this process and bear witness to the healing power of Love. Happy Thanksgiving, indeed!

With gratitude and blessings.


Friday, November 21, 2014


         Our central heating unit went out last Thursday night, just as the first big cold front of the season brought freezing temperatures to South Texas. Fortunately, we know a wonderful HVAC contractor named Javier Colvarrubias, owner-operator of Southern Comfort Heating and Cooling. He installed a new unit for us this summer, and quickly sent a technician who diagnosed the problem: the circuit board on our brand new heater/AC unit had gone out. Fortunately, the equipment was still under warranty, so there was no cost involved. Unfortunately, the part wasn't available until Mondaymorning, so our house was mighty cold over the weekend, with the indoor temperature hovering around 50 degrees.

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS           
            Fortunately, we have plenty of sweaters and blankets, so it was simply a matter of bundling up during the day, snuggling up at night, and huddling around the stove cooking big pots of soup and baking pear cake in the afternoon. Not such a bad deal.
            Javier came out first thing Monday, only to discover that it wasn't the circuit board after all. Apparently, there was some problem with the propane converter valve, something that the other technician had missed. So Javier ended up shuttling back and forth to the parts warehouse, making three separate house calls on Monday morning, afternoon and night. But he was determined to repair the unit, even though it was almostmidnight before he finally got the heat back on. Boy, did it feel good when the warm air started blowing out of those vents at last!

            Lying in bed a little while later, spooning up to my sweet partner once again, my heart was flooded with gratitude for our warm, cozy home. How easy it is to take this - and all our many blessings -- for granted; the blessing of Javier, who in the middle of his busiest week of the year, spent almost the whole day at our house without earning a single penny, determined to solve the mystery and get the job done right. For the luxury of being able to call him in the first place, knowing that we had enough money to afford whatever repairs would be required, whether or not a warranty was involved. For the abundance of sweaters and blankets that had kept us comfortable; for the pantry full of food that had kept our bodies fueled. For the knowledge that this was just a temporary inconvenience and discomfort, that relief was on the way. And that if, for any reason, we wanted to leave the cold behind, we had the resources to get in our car and drive to any one of a number of friends who would gladly have opened their comfortable homes to us.
            Drifting off to another good night's sleep, I found myself wondering: how many other gifts and blessings do I take for granted on any given day?
            This Sunday afternoon, immediately following the Morning Circle - and again next Thursday - we'll celebrate Thanksgiving by sitting down to a large, festive meal with family and friends, and we'll undoubtedly say a prayer and/or raise a toast in the spirit of Thanksgiving. But there's need to wait until then to feel grateful for the love and abundance that surrounds us today and everyday. Right now, for instance, would be a very good time to do so.

With gratitude and hopes that you, too, find yourself surrounded with blessings right now,

PS: If you should need heating/air conditioning service sometime, I wholeheartedly recommend Javier and his Southern Comfort Heating and Cooling company. In my experience, they provide good work, done right, at a fair price.

Saturday, November 15, 2014


           Hot tea is definitely my beverage of choice. First thing in the morning and last thing at night, and several times a day (in between numerous glasses of room-temperature, freshly filtered water) I love sipping a hot cuppa whenever possible. For much of the year, I prefer drinking multiple pours of a light-bodied green tea or freshly picked herbals, such as sage or peppermint. 

           But now that the first cold front has blown into town, I find myself making my favorite cool-weather libation, Spicy Ginger-Lemon Tea. If it were possible, I'd love to have you come over to our house, sit down at the kitchen table and pour you a cup right now, because it's always fun to share tea with friends. Since I can't, I'm doing the second best thing by sharing my recipe with you instead (as I have done with many other Circle friends over the years) in hopes you'll consider make some for yourself sometime soon. It's really quite simple, once you have the ingredients on hand.

1 quart boiling water, poured over
1-2 tsp. of green tea leaves (Dragon Pearl Jasmine Green Tea is my favorite for this, but any unflavored green or black tea will do. And if you prefer to avoid caffeine, you can use Chamomile instead)
1 cinnamon stick (or 2 tsp. cinnamon powder)
3-4 whole cloves (or ½ tsp. clove powder)
1 inch of fresh ginger root, peeled, and sliced thin (Powdered ginger does not really work in this situation. Only fresh ginger will do, in my humble opinion...)

Let the tea mixture steep for 5-7 minutes, preferably in a well-insulated teapot. A double-wall, stainless steel thermal container is ideal, but a regular ceramic teapot or large Mason jar wrapped in a kitchen towel will do just fine.
Pour through a strainer into large mugs, each containing 1-2 tsp. lemon juice (or more, to taste), and 1-2 tsp. of pure maple syrup (or honey). If you're daring enough, your tongue (and stomach) will thank you and dance with joy if you add a healthy pinch of cayenne powder to your mug, too! 

            This tea is guaranteed to warm your heart and soul from the inside out, whatever the temperature might be outside. In addition to being refreshing, energizing and mighty tasty, the ginger and spices are also excellent for stimulating your digestive system, while calming your nervous system, too. Might sound odd, but its true.
            And, in the event that you find yourself rushing around, feeling way too busy to even consider doing anything as superfluous as brewing up a batch of this stuff... may I suggest that it's all the more important that you allow yourself the time, space and resources to do so anyway? And, if this particular beverage doesn't speak to you, please consider finding another tangible, physical way to give yourself the time and space to relax, rest and refresh your soul for 10-15 minutes today?

DOING IT      
            Not only will you benefit from doing so, but so will all the others whose lives you will touch in the course of your day. At least, that's my cup of tea - and I'm sticking to it.

With joy,

PS:  This same tea also makes a delicious, homemade Ginger Ale. Just let it cool, then pour over ice and mix with equal parts sparkling mineral water, for a tasty beverage guaranteed to quench even your thirstiest thirst. Enjoy! 


Saturday, November 8, 2014


       My daughter, Sarah, Zet and I are zooming through the Dutch countryside, early on a cold, gray morning, heading toward Amsterdam to catch our flight back to San Antonio after three weeks of sweet suspension from our "regular" life. Much of our time was spent immersed in multiple dimensions of pleasure, beginning with our daughter's story-book, three-day wedding celebration, wrapped inside a sunny, week-long, beachfront vacation on the Mediterranean island of Ibiza, followed by a heartwarming ten days of post-wedding, domestic bliss in Sarah's home town of The Hague.
        It's been wonderful to spend this time visiting with friends and our newly-enlarged family, especially our step-granddaughters, Panther (age 7) and Arizona (age 9), who were already very close to our ten-year old granddaughter, Aiko, and quickly bonded with Oma Zet. What a lively household! Add in the joy of grazing our way through numerous feasts of favorite Dutch/Indoneasian foods, re-connecting with long-time friends and re-visiting some of my old stomping grounds from the 1970's, and you've got a can't-miss recipe for a great vacation. I'm not exactly grieving, but it sure is tough to think of leaving all of this behind.
        We are mostly quiet as Sarah drives through heavy traffic, focused on arriving at the airport on time. The silence allows my mind to ricochet wildly between replaying the joyful highlights of these past three weeks and projecting into the looming sadness of leaving this sweet family and country that I love so much, knowing that it may be quite awhile before we return. Bouncing between the past and future, alternately burning with pain, beaming with pleasure and seeking some measure of peace, I get off the mental rollercoaster just long enough to take a slow, deep breath... and then another...
        In the silence, I feel the soft embrace of the Divine - gently reminding me that I've been so busy zooming around inside my mind that I've overlooked the extraordinary treasures available right here within the moment at hand. "Sure, those times in Ibiza and Den Haag were delicious, and sure, it's hard to leave your loved ones," the Still Small Voice seems to say, "but what about Now?"
         Caught by surprise, I look with fresh eyes at this incredibly beautiful, kind, capable and strong woman at the steering wheel, fully engaged in this wonderful life she has created. And then there's my best friend and beloved wife, Zet, seated right next to me on this latest journey, just as she has been for the last 35 years. It's astonishing to feel that vast field of love radiating between the three of us, filling this car to overflowing. How could I possibly have overlooked that?
And why in the world would I spend so much of this precious, hour-long ride to the airport clinging to the past or regretting an unavoidable future? Why not simply savor the richness of this present, precious moment in the company of these two amazing women I love so deeply? Let the joy and the sorrow, the faith and confusion, the past and future be present, too? There's plenty of room for all of them -- and so much more -- within my heart, if I'm willing to embrace them all.
        Within a split second, the time-space continuum seems to melt away completely, and rather than hurtling through rush hour traffic, we're moving in slow motion, floating in an ocean of love that stretches out in all directions, inside and all around us.
Soon enough, we'll arrive at the airport, share goodbye hugs and lug our bags toward the departure gate and whatever else lies waiting ahead. But for now, I'm savoring this moment, knowing that it is enough.
With gratitude and blessings,


Sunday, November 2, 2014


 What follows is a continuation of the piece I wrote last week, as part of my intention to experience, explore and express Spirit as fully as possible during the course daily life, which includes our current trip to Spain and the Netherlands for my daughter's wedding.
         I feel very blessed to be standing on the beach in Ibiza at sunrise, meditating on the seven energy centers (chakras) in my body, in preparation for another full day of wedding festivities. What a gift it is to be breathing in the freshness and beauty of Talamanca Bay, where the clear, blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea dance against the muted light of the not-quite-visible sun, while a number of multi-hued yachts bob gently at anchor and a flock of pelicans fish for their breakfast in the harbor. 
         In a couple of hours, this beach will be full of sun worshippers, but for now I'm simmering in the silence of total solitude, with not another soul in sight. Accompanied only by the fading light of the last few stars, I imagine that they're winking at me, reminding me that they'll still be shining brightly in the day sky, despite the fact that I can't see them with the limited vision of my human eyes. "Pay attention," they seem to say, "for there's so much more to life than meets the naked eye."

         Standing on the constantly shifting margin between land and sea, where the clear, calm water intermittently laps against my ankles, I dangle two fingers into the surf, then touch them to my lips. I taste You, O Wonderful One, in the wet, salty sweetness and slight bitterness, too. Soon, it will be time to go back into the hotel to greet the other wedding guests at the breakfast table, then get ready for today's festivities. But for now, I can't help but feel that I AM truly kissing the Divine in this water, and wish to linger as long as possible.

         Choosing to drink You fully in this precious, present moment, I bend down, dip two fingers once again, then place them on my scalp to re-baptize myself, activating my crown chakra, and opening to the infinite, unlimited possibilities available now. And now. And now...
         Dipping and dripping the sacred water once again, this time on the center of my forehead, where the third eye is focused on the One Light illuminating all of creation, beautifully reflected and refracted in the shimmering sea, stretching out as far as I can see.
         Soon more drops of water are coating my throat, as I pray that I may speak and sing in ways that bear Fair Witness to Your power and presence throughout the coming day.
         Dipping once more, then dribbling water over my chest, doing my best to feel the One Love moving freely around me, within me, through me, as me. Just as surely as this clean, clear water swirling past my feet is an indivisible part of the one ocean that touches all the shorelines of the world, I AM connected to all of creation through the power of this One Love, too.
         The next wet touch lands on my solar plexus, the nexus of power and peace, located between my navel and the bottom of my rib cage. I choose to access the full measure of power available to me here, by affirming my willingness to allow Thy Will to be done through me, on all levels of creation.
         The following affirmation sinks down through my groin, where the seawater joins with the limitless flow of creative energy moving freely through me. Not coincidentally, it also reminds me that I AM much more than a passive observer, for this energy center holds an untold measure of potential co-creation ready to be made manifest on the physical plane.
         Feeling centered, I enter one last round of bending and dipping, touching the water to the base of my spine, embracing the desire to move beyond simply surviving into a place of truly thriving. Whatever fears or limitations may appear through the coming day, I choose to experience, explore and express You fully, now. And now. And now...

         Feeling much stronger than before, I turn around and head for the hotel door, knowing only good will come from this process of contacting, connecting and cleansing these energy centers with You, Dear One. May all beings be blessed by my willingness to do this. Amen.

         With gratitude and blessings,