The Strength of Ten Bulls

This is a story about a man who owned 74 Bulls! That’s impressive. Causes me to wonder about bulls in his life and the bulls in mine:

You have 74 bulls! Big shiny belt buckles and trophies show off your strength, your accomplishments. Wow! Such force, such power from 74 bulls! Strong bulls, bronco bulls, big bulls, sometimes up to 2000 pounds of muscles and bones. One of the strongest animals with great ability to buck so high, so fiercely that nothing stays on its back too long, nothing subdues it.

 

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I only have Ten bulls. They are small, stunted compared to your 74. Ordinary bulls that need no large stalls or trailers to transport them from place to place.

My Ten bulls all stay with me. They never leave my sight. Your bulls need food and shelter. My bulls feed and shelter me. They are gentle with me.

Can you go into a stall of one of your powerful bulls and lay your head on its shoulder and stroke his powerful flanks? Can you sit upon them and walk through the woods or over a grassy plain?

Fighting bulls are full of frustration, anger and power. They have learned to react to the circumstances of their suffering; they rebel though-fight back, bringing a grown man to his knees in less than 30 seconds.

Tell me your happiest, most satisfying moments with your bulls? Was it when they won a prize or money? When the nature of their self preservation bucked high? And when you returned with your earnings or your losses, how long did you carry them?

My ten bulls are my best friends. I can rest my head on their shoulders and stroke their flanks. I can ride on their backs-all of them because they are small. They carry me off to places I have never dreamed. They comfort me when swirls of dark clouds gather over the scenery of my life. When I ride with them, I am not as scared. Their strength rises up in me. I feel strong. I feel empowered. I feel free. And some times if I ride with them enough, I feel joy.

You have sold your 74 bulls. Were they your delight? Your distraction? It’s probably a good thing you do not have these brutal beasts of angst in your life anymore. You literally have 118,400 of pounds you no longer carry around with you.

I will never sell my bulls. They are a part of me. They are light and free me from my angst constantly. They give me confidence and comfort.

Even now, they are writing to you. They are carrying me on their backs across the wind of change and uncertainty.

I have the Strength of Ten Bulls.

 

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Where is a Garden of Love?

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Many of you as readers may have seen me going in a new direction in my blogs, more spiritual in nature (and more Biblical centered). It’s because I have been going through some changes-good ones. So those who are curious or as hungry as I am to know more, stick with me. For those who don’t care for the spiritual- that’s okay too!

It all starts in Genesis-the beginning. Now there are several theories about how the earth began and if there was really an Adam and Eve- the first man and woman. I don’t know, but I love the story- so here goes my version. If you don’t believe in the literal view just try and understand the foundation of the truth.

In Genesis(chapter 3) God found Adam and Eve in the garden hiding because they felt naked- they became aware of something that before had no shame,  Eating of the tree of good and evil caused, truth and lies, light and darkness, love and hate.

Before we go there, I want to talk about the Garden- The Garden of God, of Good, of Delight. What kept that all in perfect condition? Love in big capitals. God is Love. They basked in the complete and powerful Love of their creator. It flowed easily into their hearts.

And they found it with each other. Love flowing to them and between them was a place to thrive and be free of the doubts, ego ridden defenses, and all manner of dark detritus.

So when they took matters into their own hands, they opened Pandora’s box of the knowledge of good and evil.They invited in with that simple bite of the forbidden fruit-the darkness, the lies. Flooding in came shame, loss of integrity, and blame. The happy couple began the first unraveling of their partnership. We see it today with so many couples in relationship.  They are basking in love for each other, overlooking any faults and loving their oddities. They feel great, they love beyond what they believe is possible.

Then the heart allows love to be tainted by the frailties of being human- blame is in the top ten. Instead of a WE, they are a Me and You. Integrity breaks down- not being honest with each other but pretending they are real. Shame and regret are also up there. But they thrived in the Garden. Why? Because God really was the source of their love. Unlike Jerry Maguire saying, ” You complete me.” it was God who was completing them, individually which leveled the field for them to be true partners.

They separated from God, from his complete love, protection and plans. What happened next was not God giving them curses and banning them from the Garden. He was protecting them. He was showing them love. He clothed them in animal skins, clothing that would protect them well in the elements. He knew their weakness and the beautiful serpent who beguiled them. And what they could absolutely not eat was the Tree of Life, of eternity. If they did they would be in the state of darkness forever and ever!

And the result of knowing evil (darkness, lies) was they had to live in that state between  love and hate. Life began to be a struggle. The beautiful serpent became a reptile. The woman was put UNDER the man, and the man was the provider (who toiled the land for food). Isn’t it interesting that most people do not like snakes and avoid them? And haven’t we as women struggled to retain our equality and recognition ever since being put under the man? And men are still viewed as the primary providers and are shamed if they aren’t providing. Though now women are toiling the earth right along with them!

Love is still in this world and whether you recognize this as God, as source, it’s still there. Found in each other’s eyes, in holding your newborn or someone else’s child. Love holds this spinning world that seems like it’s about to spin off its axis and into pure crazy.

Can we go back to the Garden? Can we find Heaven on earth? Jesus said, “As it is on earth  so shall it be in Heaven.” God used a tree to spread Jesus across. He used his horrible pain-filled death to bring us all back to the Garden- to God’s love. The fruit we eat of now is the fruit of the Spirit- of Love. They are love, joy, peace, tolerance, kindness, and goodness and faithfulness.

Are these not the things we all espouse to, around the world, all creeds all religions (well most religions)?

Let’s go back to the Garden.

I have to include the lyrics of The Garden by Kari Jobi: listen to it on Spotify or ITunes- a beautiful and lyrical song

I had all
But given up
Desperate for
A sign from love
Something good
Something kind
Bringing peace to every corner of my mind
Then I saw the garden
Hope had come to me
To sweep away the ashes
And wake me from my sleep
I realised
You never left
And for this moment
You planned ahead
That I would see
Your faithfulness in all of the green
I can see the ivy
Growing through the wall
‘Cause You will stop at nothing
To heal my broken soul
I can see the ivy
Reaching through the wall
‘Cause You will stop at nothing
To heal my broken soul
Ohh, You’re healing broken souls
You’re healing, You’re healing broken souls
Faith is rising up like ivy
Reaching for the light
Hope is stirring deep inside me
Making all

all things right
Love is lifting me from sorrow
Catching every tear
Dispelling every lie and torment
Crushing all my fears
You crush all my fears
You crush all my fears
With Your perfect love
Oh-ohh, with Your perfect love
Now I see redemption
Growing in the trees
The death and resurrection
In every single seed,
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The eyes have it-vision,insight,and light

cropped-the-two-shall-become-one.jpgArtwork Vanessa Bruce

Have you heard the old saying? The eyes have it? What does this mean? Ot how about the eyes are the window of the soul? Or the evil eye?

Eyes are complex, next to the brain, one of the most complex organs of the body.

Eric R. Kandel is a neurobiologist, Professor at Columbia University, author of several books on brain science and Nobel Prize winner of 2000 in Physiology and Medicine.

He wrote a book in 2012 titled The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain. 

He delves into the well-respected artist, Gustave Klimt at the turn of the 19th century; now labeled the art of the unconscious. It was a time in Austria’s culture that Klimt left traditional art and led the way to expressing on canvas the inner working of the mind and emotions of people.  It was called the Art Succession– Secession  refers to a number of modernist artist groups that separated from the support of official academic art and its administrations in the late 19th and early 20th century.

He was followed later by Oska Kokashaka, the first Austrian expressionist who chose to strip away the beauty of Klimt’s display of the soul. Oska wanted to paint the agony and rawness of the soul, the inner workings in a new form.

Sigmund Freud work was also gaining a presence and following at this time in Austria.  The rising of awareness and exploration of the human psyche originating in Austria and catching like wildfire subsequently in Europe and America.

In Kandel’s book, he incorporates the visual way we perceive art through the literal physiology of the eye.

The eyes do have it! It begins with the cones and rods in the eyes (cause for direct vision and periphery vision). On the cellular level, the retinal ganglion cells use receptors to take in critical information and reduce the minimal information through the eyes. This is called action and inhibitor.  It is the difference in absorbing light in ways that we are able to see contours and contrasts.

The retina in the eyes transforms and encodes an image from the visual world into action potential. This is where the information is conveyed to the lateral geniculate nucleus and then finally to the brain (the thalamus) which travels to the cerebral cortex (the large part of our brains). Here it deconstructs and constructs the information and creates the representational image we call seeing.

The message is the eye goes through all the mechanisms which we have no awareness of; seeing seems so common, so expected as part of our vital senses. Vision gives us different perspectives, different insights, and lastly it lets light in and gives us definition of shapes and colors and sizes. It guides us and navigates our way in this world.

Which turns me away from the art and physiology to another subject- the use of the word light in scripture. There are so many verses with so many meanings. Christ claimed to be The Light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of Life (John 8:12). Or Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it is dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines a light on you (Luke 11:36).

In Isaiah 9:2 (the Old Testament) the prophet writes-The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned. Genesis 1:4 says that God saw the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness.  The book of Proverbs gives a definition of the human spirit-The human spirit  is the lamp of the Lord that sheds light on one’s inmost being (Proverbs 20:17).

There are more than 100 references in the Bible regarding the word light. Why? why next to the word Life, Salvation, and Spirit are there so many?

Kandel explains with great depth how the eye filters and receives light. His predecessor, the Austrian  scientist, Stephen Kuffler was the first scientist to examine vision  and how the  eyes’ retina affected visual stimuli (1959 Harvard Medical School). His successors David Hubel and Tortsen Weisel shared a Nobel prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1981 for their work on information processing in the visual system.

Great minds studying light and the eye. Kandel regarding the courageous and radical  artists that broke away from traditional art to explore the inner workings of the mind of humans. Large amounts of verses in the Bible emphasizing light as critical to the inner  spiritual man. It’s all about seeing and receiving -on the cellular level, on the visual level, and on the spiritual level.

I ponder all these things but, I especially want to go deep with the meanings of the word light. The light has so many meanings: illumination (literally and figuratively); a lamp or match or daylight; the aspect of a subject or belief, its perspective, angle of interpretation; and understanding-comprehension, insight, awareness. and the expert-the leader, the guide, authority and master.

Taking these definitions and plugging them into those 100+ verses might give us more depth of understanding and a guiding light (sorry for the play on words-couldn’t resist).We might receive insight and illumination within our mind and emotions (the heart), and we might be guided in a new way.

Rather literally, figuratively,  artistically, or spiritually, the eyes do have it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Self Preservation or Self Giving?

I haven’t done a lot of preserving of food in my life. In fact the last time I did preserve  was peaches  only a week before my youngest daughter’s birth (yes lots of energy and nesting).

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Preserving vegetables or fruit is a way to keep the food for a long period in order to have it in the future, to protect it from rotting or going bad.

How do we self-preserve? As humans at the primal level we are wired to preserve ourselves- fight or flight, a moment when we either need to physically protect ourselves or/and when we are protecting our emotions which may be fear-based emotions.

I would say for those of living in first world (as opposed to the third world filled many times with life-threatening situations), we are not trying to preserve our life from wild animals or starvation. But constantly we are preserving our emotional situations from being attacked or wounded.

Self-giving is an act of love and compassion for ourselves. It is a loving act of recognizing we are human with needs that are important to us thriving. It’s not a narcissistic motivation or a self-absorption. That falls in the category of self-preservation.  Self-giving might have a motivation of protection- removing oneself from a toxic environment. If someone is yelling at my child, I will immediately remove them from the presence of this person to protect my child. As adults however, if we were not given care, we may subject ourselves to toxic or unsafe situations or people.

Does giving then grow out of self-care? It can and cannot. Sometimes giving is the gateway to caring for oneself.

Giving has different motivations and forms. But usually giving stems from a concern or a love for the person or cause. We just celebrated Mother’s Day this past Sunday. Have you ever wondered why it is always on a Sunday? I think it’s because it is a Biblical based observing of rest. And we know Mothers need rest!

Most Mothers live a life of giving-their love, their devotion to the cause of parenting, and willing to sacrifice their own personal needs for that of her offspring. And they may not do a lot of self-caring in Mother mode, but their hearts grow and their understanding usually grow as a result of caring for others. But is really important for Mothers to take the time for self-care.

If you look at the spiritual leaders through time, they all spent time in self-care, meditation, praying and setting time apart to find rest and refreshment for their souls.

Jesus pulled away from the crowds desiring self-care, to be still and hear God’s voice and direction, to be filled with the glory of God. And in his final hour as a human, he sought God out to ensure crucifixion was necessary. Perhaps this is when self-preservation kicked in for Jesus. And yet, he was willing, more willing than dying a horrible death, to listen to the real reason and truth of what his death would yield, the impact it would make on the world.

It says in John 17 that Jesus prayed for himself first and then for the disciples.  He also left the crowds pulling on him to heal. Many times he would leave one crowd to go to another village because God spoke to him to minister to others. A hard thing to do if  the present crowd still has needs. John 17, Mark 1:35, Matthew 5

God is love. Self-giving is giving God to ourselves; it is seeking the spiritual restoration of our hearts. And this form of self-giving is a way for us to give freely from a place of love and not from a place of preservation. If the time of reflecting or praying or meditating does not result in Love pouring into our hearts and outward to others, then self-preservation is hiding somewhere and keeping you from trusting the source.

These are just my thoughts, my impressions of my own spiritual walk and journey in life. You may have a different view point- which is a great platform for discussion and contemplation.

After I preserved my peach marmalade, I kept some for for my family and me to enjoy. And the rest I gave away to friends- a gesture of my love and appreciation. So could you also call preservation of food a form of self-caring and caring for other?. I don’t think so! But self-caring and caring are results of preserving the good of God in ourselves and others.

My prayer for myself and for you is that you are flooded with the love of God and self-caring will naturally follow!

Love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul. Love yourself as you love your neighbors.

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Sweet Death

They died today, a slow death.

Blossoms extended fully, their last breath,

Sweet and intoxicating.

 

You appeared last Friday evening, with two dozen of them wrapped in cellophane.

A surprise! Heart leaping in my chest, I took them from you with a kiss.

 

These were not those kind of roses, a de rigueur’ of red,

which I disdain except in Winter.

Glorious colors of joyful orange, shades of soft peach and tangerine

tipped in brilliant pink.

My favorite choice; how did you know?

 

Cutting the ends of their long legs, dipping them in water,

they were crowded together in the crystal,

each sticking their head out and smiling up at me.

 

One week later, I took them out of their water vessel.

Plucking the petals off each head,

it felt cruel when all they had given me was joy.

How do I preserve the memory of them?

How do I hold onto to essence of each one?

 

I did it the wrong way.

You’re supposed to hang them together tied by a string, upside down.

Like Peter, the apostle of Christ who felt it unworthy to be hung like him,

I wonder if all the colors would be drained like Peter’s blood?

All the life, all the joy?

 

I gathered the soft petals and lay them gently, down upon the covers of my bed.

Spread them out while the overhead fan hushed them with a breeze.

 

Hours later, I checked.

They dried properly,

Their death only intensified the colors,

curling up , looking as if I had spilled a large bag of mixed tarot chips.

 

Piled in a bowl now, sitting where they stood before, tall and vibrant.

Now only a memorial to you.

 

Victoria Yeary

Friday evening, May 12th

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The Invitation By Oriah Mountain Dreamer

I have a book of poetry. I rarely pick it up, but today I sifted through looking for inspiration. This is Oraiah Mountain Dreamer. Her poem epitomizes so much of what is real and important for all of us. I hope you enjoy!

The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, ‘Yes.’

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

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Mickey Mouse, French Fries and Ethiopian Hamburgers

It was my first visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I had just spent three and a half weeks in Nairobi, Kenya with my work. I was tired and ready to return stateside.

Having arrived into Addis on an early Friday evening, my driver, Brook (His American name) had arranged a whole day of sightseeing for Saturday.  We traveled to the museum that housed Lucy the first  and earliest woman recorded to date.

We went up to the hills outside Addis and saw ancient churches. . And then in the evening, we went Ethiopian shoulder dancing. Yes, I participated in this unusual dancing ritual but I’m saving that for another blog story!

Sunday, I decided to stay close to the hotel and just rest. I had another full week of work in the office.
Around four o’clock, I was really hungry and decided to venture out on my own. I walked down a long boulevard near my hotel and found a place called ROOMIE BURGERS.

There were people outside in the cool air enjoying food with big English letters spilled across a red painted sign proclaiming good hamburgers and good service. Fair enough I thought. Looks like a good place to stop.

Upon entering the establishment I was greeted by a very exuberant, costumed fellow- Mickey Mouse, complete with large four fingered gloves, fuzzy gloves and a bit dirty on the ends of the fingertips. Enthusiastically greeting me, he inquired quickly where I was from. I said Amercia. Mickey became even more excited and taking the mouth of the costume, with his big fuzzy white gloves, he pried the mouth of Mickey wide and stuck out his face.

“I have been trying for twenty years to go to America!” he said.  So eager was he, I felt bad that he had been unsuccessful. Mickey seated me and quickly a young guy speaking Amharic and really, hardly a smidgen of English, presented a plasticized coved menu.

Hamburgers listed with all kinds of toppings. I prefer a classic burger and fries. I found the burger listed but not the fries. The waiter turned the menu over and pointed to the fries. Okay, I thought- a la carte.

Mickey scooted over why the waiter took my order- a side of fries and a burger. He wanted to ensure the woman from America was taken care of.

Only a few minutes later, a large plate of thickly cut fries arrived at my table, along with a mustard bottle and a serving plate. The waiter began to squeeze the yellow dispenser onto the plate. “No!” I said. I did not want mustard. I asked him to bring the ketchup- the red bottle! He looked confused.

Mickey came over again, and poking his face out of the mouth of Mickey, asked me what I needed. “Ketchup please- the red bottle.” I pointed to another table where a bottle was sitting. Mickey grabbed a red bottle and began to remove the yellow one.

“No, please leave that. I want it for my hamburger.”

Now Mickey and the waiter looked confused. They left me in peace to eat my fries. As I squeezed the red bottle, ketchup appeared. I tasted before squirting over my fries. Oh boy! This is not your Heinz 57! it tasted as if someone in the kitchen was familiar with what ketchup looked like but not how it tasted. I put the red bottle back.

Then out of curiosity, I squeezed the yellow bottle onto the plate. Ketchup again! No wonder they were confused as to why I wanted two ketchup bottles.

I sat there growing hungry and wondering why it was taking so long. I was trying hard not to plow into the fries.

I saw two young men come in thirty minutes later and be seated (by Mickey). Which by the way, Minnie was there too, sitting on a chair inside the restaurant, shaking her little Minnie black heels and looking totally bored!

Soon after the men were seated, they were chowing down on their burgers. Something is amiss I said to myself.

I left my table, went into the interior of the restaurant and found Mickey hanging out near the kitchen.

” I have not received my burger yet. Why?”

Mickey called the waiter. He came quickly. Mickey asked him something in Amharic. He answered as well in his native tongue. Mickey turned to me, and again thrusting his head through the mouth of the costume (I’ll never forget that sight!),  he said, “He thought you did not want a hamburger.”

“Why? I asked>

” Because you ordered a large plate of fries.”

The logic (if there was any) failed me. “Why wouldn’t he also put my order in for a burger?”

Mickey replied, ” Because fries come with the burger! Why would you want two orders of fries?”

I was a bit thrown off with the reply and my blood sugar was not particularly stable at this point. “The menu did not say the burger comes with fries. It is why I ordered them separately.”

“Oh no Miss! In Ethiopia fries always come with hamburgers.”

Now I have to stop here and say, if this cardinal rule of the absolute pairing of burger and fries is known, it was not in the tourist book I had with me!

Mickey did what any good Ethiopian would do. What? get me a burger ordered right away with great apologies?  Noooo! He wanted me to make good with the waiter.

By now, Mickey was doing his best to show his face, talk and with one somewhat worn glove place it on the waiter’s chest. “You are not upset with him? Please make good. Please make good.”

I quickly got it. The last thing they wanted was a conflict. Ethiopians are very proud but also very much about being polite and saving face. Mickey wanted me to not be upset or show any disapproval of the waiter. This was most important- over my burger.

I wasn’t angry as much as confused and hungry! Mickey kept repeating himself.

I finally gave up, asked for my ticket, paid and returned to the hotel hungry.

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When I arrived at the office the next day (still hungry), I relayed my story. Everyone had a good laugh!

The week flew by and on Friday, my coworker, Asegid took me during lunch hour to a place where I could buy a half a suitcase full of bonafide Ethiopian coffee for cheap!

Afterwards, he asked if I wanted to grab lunch?

“Sure, I replied.”

He sheepishly asked me, “Do you want to go eat a burger and fries?”

I laughed and said yes.

He drove to a place that was a small alley of eating establishments lined along the road and facing each other.

Some of the burger joints were, Smash burger, In and Out, Mediterranean Burgers, Mc Donald burgers. I had hit the jackpot for burgers.

Real American eating burger joints? No!! Just take the name of these large franchises and slap it on the front of your place!

I laughed inwardly and Asegid led me to “In and Out Burger.”

We sat in a booth outside. The inside of the restaurant looked very dim.  The waiter brought us menus. Pictures this time on the plasticized menu! There it was, the cardinal Ethiopian practice, a photo of a burger with a side of fries nestled right next to the bun. Yeah! I could have both.

The waiter came back with our ordered drinks. I smiled and said, “I’ll have the burger and fries.”

He popped back at me, “Sorry. You can have the burger, but the electricity is out. No fries!”

Asegid and I burst out laughing! And we ordered the burgers sans fries.

I guess I have one more thing to add to my bucket list now- travel to Ethiopia and have American burger and fries!

 

 

 

 

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