Christmas 2013

I am your friend.  My love, respect, and appreciation for you go deep.  Although I have attempted to give you all that I have, I am aware there is nothing I can give which you do not already possess.

There is very much, however, that you can claim.  The peace of heaven can come to us, when we find peace in the smallest gift in our day.  Claim the peace of heaven.

The negativity and judgment of the world is a shadow.  Behind the shadow, within our reach, is joy.  In every challenge, there is a gift.  Claim the gift.

Life gives abundantly.  We judge the gifts and ignore or cast them away.  Open the gift; rejoice in the splendor woven by God’s love, wisdom, and power.

Claim it, grasp it, and you touch the Holy Spirit that brings it to you.  Everything we call a trial, sorrow, or duty - the spirit’s hand is still there.

Life is bursting with meaning and purpose, full of beauty.  What we refer to as reality, cloaks the true reality – the reality of heaven on Earth.

Courage to claim it is all that is required, courage you have.  It is your spiritual birthright.

We are pilgrims together - brothers and sisters finding our way home.

So at this moment - I greet you, I acknowledge you, not quite as the world greets you, but with profound esteem, respect, and love.  I acknowledge you in daily prayer.  I greet you now and forever as the daybreaks and the first light of morning sends rays of spirit to banish the night.


Our Spiritual Evolution

To bring more spirituality into our lives, we need to shift our motivation.  We need to shift away from gain and advancement, which are “ego” and survival needs, to love and service, which are spiritual needs.  Work to serve, put your love into action.

Our spiritual evolution occurs by moving through the obstacles that our ego has created.  This process is sometimes painful.  The ego perceives a “letting go” as a loss and we are thrust into survival, flight and fight mode.  This is all part of being human.  No need to judge ourselves.  We should accept our humanity, be gentle with ourselves and use the learning as an opportunity to focus on the higher self.  Our only goal need be to do the very best we can at each moment of life.

Our spiritual evolution is our greatest gift.  As we evolve spiritually, we uplift others.  Spirituality is radiant and shared.  We touch all life with our kindness and every thought, word, action.  Gratitude and forgiveness benefits all life, forever.

Lessons From Finland

Finland has become an international model for public education over the past ten years.  Once an average educational system, it now consistently ranks in the top three on the international charts.  The Finnish transformation has not included standardized tests, competition for private and charter schools, or longer school days.  One of the their secrets to success cites Thomas Jefferson.  Jefferson spoke and wrote about “equality of educational opportunity.”

Pasi Sahlberg, Finland’s renowned educator and author of Finnish Lessons, spoke at a lecture recently at the University of Hawaii.  In January, he will be visiting Harvard’s Graduate School of Education to share the way in which the Finnish system operates.  The Finnish model shows that as when we focus on equality, excellence follows. 

In Finland, children do not receive grades until fifth grade.  “Too much unhealthy competition,” Sahlberg states.  Collaboration is the primary focus.  The same collaboration that 21st century skills, Whole Child education, and Social Emotional Learning emphasize. 

Sahlberg says, “Children should be learning because they want to learn and understand.”  We need to re-emphasize our ability to inspire learning.  In the past ten years with the oppression of standardized tests, we have lost the ability to have a balanced curriculum.  Many schools have deleted or reduced arts, music, and in some elementary schools, recess. 

The United States once led the world in creativity and innovation.  Standardization of tests and curriculum continues to produce low academic performance and a negative impact on creativity, innovation, and general health. 

A sampling of the Finnish research is as follows:
  • Daycare is available to all.
  • Schools provide comprehensive health services and nutritional lunches.
  • Education is free from pre-school to University.
  • Teaching is a highly respected profession.  It is an intense, competitive career track.  All teachers earn Master’s Degrees.
  • Schools and teachers have autonomy.

Our issues and concerns are not educational.  We do not need to “fix” education.  Our issues are poverty, inequality, addictions, mental health concerns, violence, and political oppression.  Where there is poverty and inequality, there will always be pain.  Our answers are Whole Child education, Social Emotional Learning, and 21st Century Skills – Human teaching for human learning.


Lean Into Fear

Today I woke up in fear.  Nothing specific - just that unique, deep sense of fear that sometimes haunts me.  I have learned to lean into fear – to feel the fear and move through it.  I pray - ask God to protect me, guide me, allow me to feel his loving presence. 

As I lean into my fear, I am reminded of my larger purpose.  Serve. 
Serve with love and passion.  Be vulnerable; Be authentic; Be transparent.  Risk.

Do not look for approval outside of myself.  Be the message.  Be deeply in the moment.  Be engaged in the act of sharing God’s love with the world. 

Though sometimes I would rather run away, I am faithfully open hearted.  The impact of spiritual love, faith, and trust compels me to be real – and I am revealed.  In my vulnerability, I experienced gratitude and grace.