“Falling Upward”

“Falling Upward” by Richard Rohr

This book attempts to explain the spiritual life during two halves. The author sees this as young adulthood where life’s priorities are strict, organized and goal driven, but a time of making many mistakes. He sees the second half of life, beginning at approximately the fifties, as being more stable, peaceful and enlightened. These stages he relates to organized religion.

The author is a Catholic priest and explains his theory based on spirituality but not necessarily from the Christian point of view. He includes other religions such as Islam, Judaism and the Buddhist faith in his examples and references. This book and Rohr’s theory would probably be of little interest to those without any spiritual or religious background.

As a person well into the “second half” I could identify with some of his points but still found the book a bit confounding. I believe his main point was that we grow upward by falling down, i.e., making mistakes and being hurt. There is wisdom to be had in this book, but a plethora of analogies made it a bit hard for me to stick with it until the end.

PBS has called Richard Rohr “one of the most popular spirituality authors and speakers in the world.”

Anniversary

Welcome Back Readers!

I’ve missed you, but I thought of you often as I worked on Crooked Creek, trying to make it better and perhaps more relevant. Most changes will barely be perceptible, but some require an explanation.

In the very beginning I declared Crooked Creek to be a “Politics Free” zone https://crookedcreek.live/2016/09/03/declaration/ and I’ve pretty much avoided the subject of religion, as well. That will change to a certain degree. While I don’t plan to get into partisan politics, in today’s turmoil I feel lead to include my thoughts on the state of our nation and its people. There may be times when I choose to include my religious experiences, too, but don’t worry, I have no plans to preach!

As of today the blog, Crooked Creek, is four (4) years old. It contains a total of 466 posts and has 459 followers. Readers have been from eighty-three (83) different countries which amazes the author.

Thank you to those who have contributed a poem, idea or book review for followers to enjoy. I am also appreciative of each and every reader and I have enjoyed the input from those who have chosen to comment. It gave me encouragement and made all the efforts involved worthwhile.

Thank you for these four years together and I look forward to exploring with you in the future.

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Photo by Mike

 

Lights

“Light the Festive Candles” by Aileen Lucia Fisher

Light the first of eight tonight—
the farthest candle to the right.
Light the first and second, too,
when tomorrow’s day is through.
Then light three, and then light four—
every dusk one candle more
Till all eight burn bright and high,
honoring a day gone by
When the Temple was restored,
rescued from the Syrian lord,
And an eight-day feast proclaimed—
The Festival of Lights—well named
To celebrate the joyous day
when we regained the right to pray
to our one God in our own way.

 

Aileen Fisher, “Light the Festive Candles” from Skip Around the Year (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1967). Copyright © 1967, 1985

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Photo by Pixabay

Russia

Brief History

During the “cold war” I grew up hearing about the evil Russians who lived in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR). The country’s shortened name was the Soviet Union and even that sounded ominous. People with enough money to afford underground bomb shelters had them built. There were discussions about the hard decision of what to do if during a nuclear attack a neighbor wanted to enter your shelter. What would you do was the question, since you likely didn’t even have enough supplies to sustain your own family for long. My family didn’t have to worry about that dilemma, but I worried about what would happen to us. Hearing of new threats on the evening news or hearing adults talk about the possibility of a Russian bomb was very unsettling for children. It didn’t help that we had bomb drills at school where we were taught to duck under our desks for protection from the falling bombs!

Communism

Communism came to Russia, then called a Socialist Federation, in a revolt led by Vladimir Lenin in 1917. Joining other Socialist Republics in 1922 the country became the USSR. Millions later died of starvation or while working in forced labor camps under the dictatorship of Joseph Stalin. During World War II he led the Soviets in siding with Hitler but ended up losing over twenty-five million Soviet citizens. The Cold War between the US and the USSR followed this period. 

The last leader under the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev, introduced a new openness called “glasnost” around 1986. He was elected President in 1990 and led the reformation of the Communist Party, called “perestroika.” Up to this time, Communism had discouraged all religions including the most prevalent Russian Orthodox. Boris Yeltsin was next elected and took the country further into democratic reform and to a free market system. 

Visit

In July of 1994, I visited Russia for seventeen days. It was worth every dollar spent, every inconvenience and every discomfort that I endured to learn that Russian people were not who I thought, who I had been taught. I will tell you more about what I learned in following posts. 

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Visa Application 02/18/1994

Part 1 of 6

 

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Soul 7

I Believe

I believe my Mother’s essence is in many objects that I have in my home. Not so much in the antique dishes or her personal jewelry, but in the things she infused with her love. I believe that her soul speaks to me through the stitches she loving put into place over the years of her life. I feel her love in the baby quilt she embroidered for her children, the ring pillow she made for my wedding, in the yarn she transformed into beautiful pieces of art and the scraps of material from the clothes she made for her granddaughters and their dolls, later quilted together.

I believe that my Aunt Thelma’s essence is strong in items she left behind and that she must be happy we find both uses and joy in them today. They are things that were dear to her and I have the privilege now of calling them mine. I love them not for themselves but because I loved her so much and I feel her presence when I see them.

She was taught by her church that it was a duty to bear children and it was probably her greatest disappointment in life that she did not conceive. She loved me and other nieces and nephews, she loved my daughters, too. How sweet her smile must be as she watches my granddaughter, who Aunt Thelma never met, sew pieces of lace from her 91 year old wedding dress into the wedding dress that Kate will wear next month. I know her soul is happy today. 

I believe my husband’s essence is the flowers that grow in our courtyard where he planted them. In caring for them, I continue to learn from him about the effort it takes to give beauty its fullest potential. His soul lives on nourishing the plants, keeping me company and giving me purpose. 

I believe that my maternal Grandparents’ essences are present when I pick up one of their Bibles. I know how important these books were to them and not just as a place to record family records of births, marriages, and deaths. They also recorded other important information such as their Social Security Numbers and the date of their last tetanus shots!

Seriously, the Bible was holy to them. They each read from it daily and they carried it with them to their little country church, Mt. Vernon Baptist, twice each Sunday and usually at least once in the middle of the week. Their souls are close by those worn and precious books. 

 

Nature is not only all that is visible to the eye… it also includes the inner pictures of the soul.” Evard Munch

Part 7 of 7

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Soul 4

Oprah’s Guests

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Oprah – Photo by Google

Those referenced in Soul 2 who were interviewed by Oprah https://crookedcreek.live/2018/04/07/soul-2/  are often called upon for their opinions in spiritual matters. Her guests include many who are well prepared via their education and experience and perhaps some who are self-proclaimed experts on the topic of the soul. Let’s look at some of the characteristics they used to describe the human soul to see how they agree or differ.

 

Authors

The one distinction the following group has in common is that they are all published. 

NAME

BACKGROUND

SOME WORDS USED

Dyer, Wayne Motivational Speaker birthless, deathless, changeless
Franklin, Devon Spiritual Success Coach where the Holy Spirit resides, connection with God
Pink, Daniel Behavioral Scientist purpose
Singer, Michael Founder of The Temple of the Universe indwelling consciousness, center of being
Vanzant, Lyania Spiritual Life Coach fingerprint of God that becomes the body
Vaughan-Lee, Llewellyn Sufi Mystic our divine nature, belongs to God
Williamson, Marrianne Spiritual Teacher truth of who we are

Eternal?

These interviewees have been grouped together because they each indicate that the soul has no beginning nor end. It surprises me that of the thirteen interviewed only three indicated that the soul is eternal and two of them did not use that word but did indicate that was their belief.

NAME

WORK / BACKGROUND

WORDS USED

Chopra, Deepak Medical Professor, New Age Movement, Alternative Medicine Eternal, core, internal reference point
Ford, Debbie Self Help Coach Core, never dies, contains all lessons learned
Zukav, Gary Seat of the Soul Institute Present before and after birth

Essence

This last group is made up of those who used the word I repeatedly come back to when trying to describe the soul. That word is “essence” and in our next post of this series, I will try to explain why.

NAME

WORK / BACKGROUND

WORDS USED

Breathnach, Sarah Ban Philanthropist Essence
Houston, Jean Human Potential Movement Essence, innermost being, beyond form or consciousness
Tolle, Eckhart Wrote “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose” Essence, transcends our leaving this mortal coil

How do these all of these professional descriptions agree with what you have always thought or now think about the soul?

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“You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul.” George Bernard Shaw

 

Part 4 of 7

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Soul 2

Soul Discussion

Not surprisingly this subject struck a chord with readers. We will not answer the questions posed in the last post. That is not the purpose of this series, but regardless it would be impossible. There is no way that we can know what the soul is or where it resides if it does exist. We can believe, but like the experience of death, there is no proof. We will surely die and if there is a soul, then we will know. This fact does not dissuade us from our beliefs or our interest in the opinion of others. https://crookedcreek.live/2017/03/27/what-i-know-for-sure/

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Oprah Winfrey – Photo from Google

Even our friend Oprah wonders, asks questions and broadcasts about this subject. In 2012 on her series “Super Soul Sunday” she discussed this very question with over a dozen of her guests. HuffPost published this information and you may read the responses or watch excerpts from the interviews in a short video at https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/25/what-is-the-soul-eckhart-tolle-wayne-dyer_n_2333335.html

Soul Opinions

The group Oprah assembled is made up of individuals from interesting and varied backgrounds. A few were religious but more perhaps were spiritual. Some work as life coaches, do public speaking and/or found institutions offering self-improvement programs. One, a medical professor with extensive name recognition in the US is Deepak Chopra who is known for his New Age and alternative medicine beliefs. Of the baker’s dozen personalities, at least twelve are authors. 

We’ll look at their comments and opinions in the next posts, but Chopra’s soul description is a good start for today.  He calls the soul an “internal reference point” and I wonder how that differs from having a conscious. He also refers to the “core” of an individual that is “eternal”. Two others in the group also intimated that the soul is eternal without using that word. 

 

What is a soul? It’s like electricity – we don’t really know what it is, but it’s a force that can light a room. Ray Charles

Part 2 of 7

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Soul?

Soul Food, Soul Music, Soul Mate

Since we often reference souls we must know what a soul is, correct? Is it a soul or the soul? Do we have one? Does every person have one? Can you sell it? Can you bare it? Can you bless it, as in “Well, bless my soul!”?

I used to believe I had the full answer to these and more profound questions from my faith tradition. As I have lived longer, had more experiences and opportunities for learning, I have less confidence in what I used to believe with little question. 

This is not intended to be a religious discussion nor debate. On this blog, I eschew that subject with almost as much determination as to the subject of politics.  https://crookedcreek.live/2016/09/03/declaration/

That being said it is worth mentioning that the word soul appears in most holy books. For example “soul” can be counted 55 times in the Christian *New Testament, 224 times in the Quo’ran and a whopping 443 times in the Hebrew *Old Testament.      

*King James Version


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What is Soul? 

I feel that each of us has a theory and of course, we can easily check the dictionary for a formal definition but I am more interested in your personal beliefs. At the least, I hope to stimulate thought on this subject. I will be sharing my thoughts and those of some of our contemporaries in the next several posts.

The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.”   Harriet Ann Jacobs

 

Part 1 of 7

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