Saturday, July 28, 2018


     Although I spend big chunks of my time on the computer, I know very little about it and mostly use it for sending/receiving emails and as a word processor. It can be difficult to deal with computers under the best of conditions, but when something on my desktop, smartphone, printer, or tablet doesn't work, it's mighty easy to get frustrated and feel totally lost in the thicket of drop-down screens, unknown ip addresses, forgotten passwords and nonsensical security questions I have to wade through. And then there are the interminable wait times on the phone involved in getting tech support from someone who's reading from an indecipherable script that seems only vaguely related to the specific trouble with my router, modem, extender, service provider... arrrgghh!!
     I don't think I've ever gotten as mad at any person as I've gotten with my computer and myself in the middle of techno meltdowns! It's embarrassing to admit, especially to myself, but this has been an Achilles Heel for years. So, when I started having intermittent trouble with e-mails on my desktop a couple of weeks ago, I did my best to ignore it at as long as I could, because I didn't want to get into another rage-fest. Finally, as the problems grew, I decided to take some time to sit quietly at my computer, and affirm that some helpful person would come and provide the support needed. And sure enough, the next night a long-time acquaintance, Flavio Vilches, attended the weekly Meditation Circle, as he had several times over the years. But this time, he mentioned in passing that he's an Information Technology specialist, who's operated his own IT support firm for since 1999.  In all the years I've seen Flavio at various spiritual gatherings around town, I never knew that!
     Upon hearing of the problem, Flavio immediately offered to help. But somehow my inner resistance to dealing with my techno-phobia was so strong I STILL managed to create reasons to put Flavio's visit off for another two weeks. But when it finally couldn't be delayed any longer, he came to the Circle office and magic happened. He was so calm, cool and friendly, so insistently pleasant in the face of my computer anxiety, that it just sort of melted over the course of the two hours he spent patiently dealing with various Help Desks and drop-down screens required to fix the problem. He was also able to explain what he was doing in terms that I could understand; if this same situation arises again, I might be able to handle it myself. And if I can't, I now have a kind, capable and resourceful friend to ask for help.
     Of course, I'm grateful to Flavio, and would happily recommend him, should you or your small business need help with computer issues someday. But, more than that, I am so grateful for the reminder that Life always provides loving support, if only I'm willing to ask for and receive it. May you, too, feel yourself surrounded by helping hands and hearts, in whatever circumstances you may face.
With joy,
     Rudi Harst

THANK YOU for holding the Circle in your heart by visualizing a generous flow of financial abundance. Thank you for supporting us as we continue our work of fostering a creative, inclusive approach to spirituality. We are deeply grateful.

Monday, July 23, 2018


     One of the best things about living on the outskirts of the city near the San Antonio River is the wide open green space surrounding our neighborhood. We enjoy vast green vistas on our daily walks along the San Juan Acequia Trail and the Mission Reach. What a gift it is to stand on the banks watching the river flow toward the Gulf of Mexico while a wide variety of birds soar overhead into the brilliant sunset shining in the distance. 
     But one of my very favorite sights is a much, much smaller one that literally brings me down to my knees on a regular basis to watch the tiny leaves of the Sensitive Briar (Mimosa Pudica), growing along the edges of the trail, reacting instantly to even the lightest touch, by shrinking into themselves. It's mind-boggling to watch the rapid contraction (thigmonasty) of the leaves, a startling rapid response I normally associate with creatures, not plants. I don't fully understand the biochemical reactions involved, but it sure is an amazing process to watch.

     One moment, the two rows of tiny leaves, neatly lined up along either side of a tiny stem, are bright green and sturdy-looking; the next moment, they literally twirl into action at the slightest touch, leaving a whole section of the plant looking completely shriveled up and dead, with just a row of sharp little spines exposed to any animals wanting to graze on this nutritious plant. But if left alone for a few minutes longer, the leaves gradually unfurl and go back to their serious work of harvesting the sunlight the plant needs for the life-sustaining process of photosynthesis.

     I remember being amazed and amused while playing with these same plants when I was very young, just like I used to love catching fireflies and watching them light up in my hands.  But, I'd largely forgotten about sensitive briars until recently, when the injuries I sustained in a major car wreck last year made me increasingly aware of my body, my surroundings and the many little gifts, guides and reminders of the miracles that life has to offer, day in, day out. I've learned that such reminders are always available, if I'm just willing to slow down and pay attention, and these little sensitive briars are certainly among them. 

     Watching these plants in action provides a strikingly visual metaphor for how easy it is to withdraw and contract defensively when our ego feels like it's being threatened - and how important it is to be aware of such contractions, and open ourselves up and get back to the vital business of engaging in the life-sustaining flow of Love moving through us. I'm so grateful to the tiny Mimosa Pudica for teaching me such a big little lesson: life's too precious to spend in a contracted state. Why not open up and blossom instead?

With gratitude and blessings,
     Rudi Harst

PS Here is a short video of the Sensitive Briar in action.

THANK YOU for holding the Circle in your heart by visualizing a generous flow of financial abundance. Thank you for supporting us as we continue our work of fostering a creative, inclusive approach to spirituality. We are deeply grateful.

Saturday, July 14, 2018


     Patti Burleson is a retired librarian in her mid-80's who has enjoyed a life-long love affair with books, as well as a deep interest in metaphysics, mythology and philosophy. Consequently, she accumulated quite a collection of books on those subjects over the years. When she moved into her daughter's home recently, she knew there wouldn't be room for all of her books, but she didn't want to just get rid of them; she wanted them to go fellow book-lovers with an interest in these subjects.
     Patti has only attended one Circle-sponsored event, and that was a couple of years ago, but she's been following us online and reading this weekly e-letter ever since. Knowing that her interests dovetailed well with our inclusive approach to spirituality, she wanted to support our work, as well as make certain that her beloved books get into good hands -- so she recently called to ask if Celebration Circle would be interested in receiving her books as a donation. Yes, indeed!

      Last week, Edward "Butch" Sagebiel, another retired librarian (and the longest serving member of our Council of Stewards, having joined in 1992!) came to our office and spent the day helping sort through  the 200+ books in Patti's collection. With his assistance, we'll be offering these wonderful books for sale during our Sunday Circle this Sunday, and for the next couple of weeks. Come see why we were excited to receive this generous donation, and maybe take couple of books with you, too. Thank you, Patti and Butch!

With blessings,
     Rudi Harst

THANK YOU for holding the Circle in your heart by visualizing a generous flow of financial abundance. Thank you for supporting us as we continue our work of fostering a creative, inclusive approach to spirituality. We are deeply grateful.

Saturday, July 7, 2018


     A number of friends have asked me why I shaved my head last month; several were concerned about my health, because they automatically associated such a suddenly-bald head with chemotherapy. Others assumed I had taken some sort of spiritual vow; some asked jokingly if the new hairdo was my way of trying to beat the summer heat in South Texas.
     The truth is none of the above. I had contemplated shaving my head several times in recent years, as my hair grew thinner and my hairline crept higher. As a long-time professional musician, I've always taken care to maintain a hairstyle that matched whatever "headshot" photo I was using at the time, because that's what professional entertainers do. But as I got older, it just seemed silly to spend good money going to a hairstylist once a month to have ever-fewer hairs manicured into place, and then spend time washing, drying and shaping them before every public appearance, just so I could maintain a particular image.
     But, each time I mentioned the possibility of shaving my head, Zet was quick to nix the idea, saying it wouldn't look good, given the shape of my head. That, in turn, always brought back memories of being teased in elementary school for having big ears, buck teeth, and the bad haircuts I got from my dad, who lined his six sons up in the backyard and sheared us on the first Saturday of every month. I clearly remember that after watching the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964, I vowed to start earning money by mowing our neighbor's lawns, so I could go to the barber shop and pay for a "mod" haircut, in part to emulate my new rock-n-roll heroes, in part to cover my big ears. Which I did. And ever since then, I've made a priority of going to the best hairstylist I could find, even when money was tight.
     Fast forward to last month. On successive days, I turned sixty-six, filed for Social Security, made an appointment to be tested for hearing aids, watched our son move back into our house, and put to rest a long-submerged dream of becoming a touring musician again someday. Unrelated facts, with complicated back stories, but all tied together with the ribbon of Conscious Aging, which involved making a conscious choice to embrace what is, instead of longing for what was or what could be. Suddenly, it seemed like shaving my head would be a good punctuation mark for moving onto the next chapter of my life story, as well as a handy tool for coming to peace with another layer of my old, childhood programming. So, I did it.
     It's no big deal; just another opportunity to be present with whatever IS in the moment, rather than re-inhabiting the illusions of either a stigmatized or glamorized past -- or drifting off into an idealized future. Young or old, it's a valuable lesson, and I'm doing my best to learn it, one small choice at a time.

With blessings,
     Rudi Harst

THANK YOU for holding the Circle in your heart by visualizing a generous flow of financial abundance. Thank you for supporting us as we continue our work of fostering a creative, inclusive approach to spirituality. We are deeply grateful.