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Answered Prayer

Affirmation: 
I believe in answered prayer.
Faith, what does that look like to you?  My husband says it’s “trust on
steroids.”  It has also been said the
opposite of faith is not doubt but certainty. 
I am not certain.  I have listened
to others talk about their faith and their relationship with God or for Christians
like myself, with Jesus.  I have heard
the stories of the “born again.”  Many
times I am filled with envy and always I am filled with quite a few questions.  My faith journey has been slow and steady,
climbing up, slipping down, ever hopeful that I don’t slip below my last
starting place.
I have not found it easy to be faith
filled.  I have to work at it every
day.  I appreciate being told, “It’s the
work of a lifetime.”  I hope, too, that
my lifetime is long enough to get me to a place where I can fully trust in
God’s love and care for me and for my loved ones.
I love to read and hear the sermons about
God’s bountiful love and care for us, His or Her children.  There are many preachers who see God as this
entity that only wants what’s best for us. 
And, they lead me to believe that His/Her best is also my best.  There is where the difficulty lies. I keep
wondering where martyrs fit in this picture of divine love and care.  On February 22, 2011 a group of four
Americans were captured and killed off the coast of Somali.  They were
sailing around the world since December 2004, on the yacht of Jean and Scott
Adams.  The Quest was their home, this couple from California.  The
two other Americans on board were Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle of Seattle,
Washington.  When I first heard about Jean and Scott, they had been
captured by pirates and were being held hostage.  They were then
surrounded by the US navy and other helping vessels but, before they could be
rescued, they were shot dead.
I
was truly inspired by their adventurous spirit when I first heard the story of
their mission.  I know there must be many
people who have the same spirit and I just haven’t heard about all of
them.  But, Jean and Scott were in their 70s and they were sailing to
remote parts of the world to share the word of God.  Yes, I know a lot of
people are missionaries and I am usually in awe of anyone who lives a life so
far out of most people’s comfort zone.  They were not what I consider
young and here they were so far from their support systems.  What would
they have done if they got sick, or injured, or needed a dentist or as a friend
commented to me, “If Jean needed a massage, or a facial?” 
Obviously, their mindset was very different than most people.
But,
if they died doing God’s work, as have so many martyrs, why should I believe
that Jesus will take care of me?  Oh,
yes, I would like to believe that.  We
don’t get everything we ask for, sometimes it seems like someone isn’t’ even
out there.  Thankfully, sometimes we get
something even better than we could have imagined.  I can recall several specific times in my
life when I was praying in general for one thing and something so much better
came along.  It can take my breath
away.  When my oldest daughter, Melissa,
was a single parent we, her father and I, prayed daily for her well-being.  We didn’t know exactly what that would look
like but we knew we didn’t want her and her children to endure undue
hardship.  We were there for them in
every way we could be but we wanted her to be able to care for herself and her
children.  We wanted her to be
independent and self-sufficient in every way possible.  Our prayers were answered beyond our wildest
expectations when she met Larry.  Not
only did she find someone amazing to share her life with but along with him
came two wonderful new grandsons.
One
day I was overcome with worry about my mom. 
I was at a loss about how to help her and she was not capable of helping
herself.  I was so overwhelmed with the
responsibility that I simply turned it over to God.  I prayed, “Lord, I do not know what to
do.  Please send help.”  Then, I waited.  It wasn’t long before the phone rang and
right after that my family arrived, called and accompanied me to my mom’s
home.  A new “on call” physician arrived
and before I knew it, mom was feeling better. 
I hadn’t even had time to stop and thank God for His/Her response.  As I reflected later, I began to see the
blessings that had been sent and then I had to choose.  Was it just the universe stepping into
support us?  Would it have happened even
if I didn’t say a prayer?  Maybe, but I
did pray and it gave me great comfort to believe the help we received was
answered prayer.  I want to believe in
answered prayer.  I know I will never
understand it but I believe with every fiber of my being that prayer makes a
difference.  If I can tap into the belief
that my prayers are always answered, in a way that only benefits me, think of
the peace that can be mine.  It has been
promised, you know, Mathew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you
will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
I believe God never leaves me, if I ask
Him/Her to be with me.  It is I who comes
and goes.  I believe that through my
faith, I will be able to deal with whatever life throws at me.  And, that whatever that is, through faith, it
will be miraculously transformed into something good, maybe something great,
something beyond my wildest imagination. I need to believe.  I have chosen to believe.  I have chosen the theology and doctrine that
I grew up with.  It’s not perfect but it
enables me to live life with less fear and anxiety than I could without
it.  I believe it because I want to
believe.  That’s what most of my affirmations revolve around, what I want
to believe.   Yes, a loving caring God.  I know this question
has been asked and examined many times around topics even more horrendous than
what Jean and Scott endured.  Topics like:  war, famine, child abuse,
cancer and other life threatening or debilitating diseases.  Perhaps, it’s
not what happens to us, no matter how difficult; perhaps it’s how we perceive
what happens to us?  Perhaps if we practice trusting God, we can go to our
death with dignity and grace regardless of the circumstances, knowing that this
life is temporary and because of our faith, because of my faith in Jesus
Christ, I will share in the glory of heaven.  My faith and trust in Him,
will secure me life everlasting, with Him and all the Saints and Angels. 
That’s why I believe and why I am still working on it.   

The Path to Health; Forgiveness

Affirmation: I freely forgive myself and others.

What does it mean to forgive someone?  What does forgiveness look like?  Does it mean you must now become the
offender’s friend?  Does it mean you must
forget whatever happened that unsettled you or brought you pain?  Is forgiveness an emotion or a conscious
decision?  Once you make that decision,
are you done or is it a process?

Have you ever had something happen in your life that you
could not let go of? Something that seemed to haunt you? Something that you
were sure you had “gotten over” that kept appearing? Something that
kept coming up even in your dreams?

Forgiveness is a topic that appears in all spiritual
teachings and in many writings about improving one’s physical health. Of
course, one can’t really separate the two. Forgiveness is a letting go of
resentment and hurt.  It offers one the
opportunity to let go of perceived or actual injuries and move forward.  It does not demand that you dismiss someone’s
poor behavior or that you and your offender need to continue a
relationship.  It is not an emotion, it
is a conscious decision and it can take a lot of work!

I can be fascinated by my own reaction to what I think is a
“done deal.”  I’m sure I’ve put that
issue behind me.  I’ve prayed about it,
I’ve journaled about it and I’ve made a conscious decision to not hold onto
whatever it is that has caused me pain, whether or not it was intentional.  “I’m good with that,” I tell myself and then
something happens, there’s some recollection of the event and whoosh, I feel
like I’m starting all over again and I probably am but if I’ve worked on it,
I’m probably starting a little further up the spiral than in the
beginning. 

The Buddhists say when you don’t forgive someone it’s like
holding a hot coal in your hand and expecting it to burn the other person.  Christ’s main message was about love and
forgiveness.  Even after he had been
tortured and humiliated, He asked his Father to forgive His persecutors.  “Father, forgive them for they know not what
they do.”  (Luke 23:34) The one prayer he taught us, The Our Father, says, “…forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against
us.”  One of the church studies in which
I have participated, focused on forgiveness as a tool to bring one closer to
God and at one of the yoga workshops I attended which was taught in the
tradition of TIch Nat Han, the focus was also on forgiveness.

The Mayo Clinic has a whole web site devoted to how
forgiveness promotes health and healing. (www.mayoclinic.com/health/forgiveness) There’s also a healing movement that encourages people who have lost
loved ones to violent crimes to connect with the criminal and to offer an olive
branch.  I cannot even imagine the
fortitude and stamina that such a process must take but there are those amazing
people out there who accomplish such a monumental feat.  

My book group read, The
Girl in the Blue Dress
by Gaynor Arnold Catherine Taylor. It’s the
fictional story of the wife of Charles Dickens. It created a great deal of
conversation, which is one reason I am part of a book group. In the story this
woman went about healing herself of every shred of animosity she had with
regard to those who had mistreated her in her life. And, she was very poorly
treated, even, some would say, abused. Her husband disowned her, made her leave
her home and 6 of her 8 living children. Her sister took over the household and
kept the family from contacting her. Her husband had what everyone thought was
a mistress. Even after her children were grown, they did not connect with her.
She had a lot to be angry about. She had a lot of justified reasons for
resentment and she had quite a bit, as you can well imagine. But, after her
husband died, she openly accepted those people in her family who wanted to make
restitution. She didn’t demand a thing from them, other than an open mind and
heart. She even took herself to her husband’s rumored mistress and made peace
with her.

What do you think? Was she a weak, desperate person or was
she wise and strong? Was she so used to being used as a doormat that she no
longer knew how to stand up for herself, or was she so relieved to let go of
years of loneliness and shunning? All I can tell you, is that I found her
actions to make peace with her pain, inspiring. Oh, it’s so easy to hold onto
resentments, to work them over in our minds until we know we are right and our
nemesis is oh, so very wrong, perhaps even evil. But, truly, when I do that,
those emotions, those conversations I have with myself, don’t disturb that
other person in any way. The only one who is unsettled and disturbed is me.

One of my daily readings comes from a book called, Spiritual Insights for Daily Living.  I’ve discovered that some things have longer
“tails” than others.  They can be
draining and unsettling. Sometimes, I can’t even imagine why these thoughts that
keep coming up, have become so insistent, so obsessive. The reading from
January 21st helped me with this issue. “I am now ready for a
cleansing–getting rid of debris that I have harbored much too long. Anyone who
at any time may have contributed to causing disharmony within me, I bring into
consciousness and I see them clearly and honestly. As I visualize them, I say
with feeling and complete sincerity: “I fully and freely forgive
you.”  

We are called to forgive “seventy times seven.”  (Matthew18:22)  One of my studies called the injuries we
carry with us “wounds of the heart.”  We
were encouraged to carefully look back on our lives and make note of every
wound that had been inflicted upon us. 
Certainly, I’ve been very lucky and didn’t see any reason to pursue this
line of healing.  But, I would
participate simply because I was part of the group and this was our
assignment.  Once I cracked open the box
that held all those wounds, I was stunned to see just how many were still in
there.  I had things hiding in that box I
hadn’t thought of in years!  Once the
list began, I actually found some pleasure in making it.  Not only were old acquaintances on that list,
but my church was there and once in awhile, God’s name came up.  Then too I found way down in the bottom, my own
name.  So many things of which I had not
yet forgiven myself. 

Wounds of the heart take up space, space that can be used
for love and for compassion.  What to do
with them?  Now that I could see them
clearly, it was time to turn them over to God, an angel or two, maybe a
spiritual guide.  I visualized my taking
the list and folding it and placing it in a new box.  I closed the lid, locked the lock and placed
it way up on a shelf that would take a lot of effort to reach.  I am surprised when I find it has popped open
on its own and I have to reseal it. There are other more tangible techniques
that you may choose.  One would be to
actually burn the list. Do whatever it takes to begin the healing.  Yes, it takes me longer to let go of
somethings than others. But, it really helps me to tell myself;  I freely forgive myself and others. I know by putting this affirmation into practice, I am
happier, I am more peaceful and I am healthier. Truly, there are no justified
resentments. Let them all go, especially, I repeat, especially the ones you
hold towards yourself.

May All Your Dreams Come True

Affirmation:  By pursuing my dreams, I help to make the world a better place. 
The newspaper article was about an organization called Wish of a Lifetime.  It explained it isn’t the only organization of its type.  There is also The Twilight Wish Foundation, The Bucket List foundation, Forever Young Senior Wish Organization and S.H.O.W. (Seniors Having One Wish.)  They all have the same goal; to grant a wish to an elderly person who is in desperate need of a morale booster.  The article’s photo was of centenarian Miriam Krause.  She was shown in the basket of a hot air balloon.  She had requested a ride for her 100th birthday.
 
 How do you feel about seeing dreams come true?  One of my prayers for my children is for “true dreams.”  My husband’s philosophy regarding a parent’s happiness is, “On any given day most parents are as happy as their unhappiest child.”  When he first shared this with me our children were teenagers.  Now, they are adults and that philosophy is as true today as it was then.  Therefore, it is my best interest to pray that their dreams come true.  Now, I have added my grandchildren.  Actually, my daily prayers request God’s “favor and blessings” on everyone I pray for, those I pray for by name and those in the world “who most need Your mercy.” 
Do you have a bucket list?  In case you need help putting one together there are all sorts of web sites that have lists on them to help you along.  One such site is Bucketlist.org.  It actually offers “10,000 things to do before you die.”  The first time I became familiar with the term, Bucket List, was from the 2007 movie by the same name starting Jack Nicholson & Morgan Freeman.  As of this writing, Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman are still going strong and I would imagine there isn’t much on which they have missed out. 
I was surprised that it’s fairly common for teenagers to have bucket lists.  My granddaughter has one.  So far, I think the fun for her is discovering those things she wants to add to the list.  Certainly, I hope she has as long as Jack or Morgan to work on checking off her dreams. 

Our dream list can be very different at different times, just like our prayer list.  In times of peace, our dreams can be very specific, like a new house or a vacation or perhaps time to enjoy our favorite activity.  When my husband and I went on a tour of the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville we were paired with another couple.  The Ryman is the original home of the Grand Ole Opry.  As we were escorted into Johnny Cash’s dressing room, I noticed the gentleman on the tour with us became very quiet.  He almost looked like he couldn’t catch his breath.  I looked at him with concern when his wife spoke, “This is his dream come true.  He has always wanted to see the Ryman and where Johnny Cash had his dressing room.”  I loved being in this place with this man when he realized one of his dreams. 

In times of strife, our dream list can be more universal.  Our dream may be for a world filled with peace, good health and safety for all.  For me, the greatest dreams are those that will improve the world’s conditions.  Of course, one cannot deny that when an individual makes his or her dream come true, the world does become a better place.  But, when I see and read about those people who dream really really big and bring them into reality, I am awed.  In the same newspaper issue that had the Wish of a Lifetime story, there was also a story about Hunger in the USA.  It highlighted several organizations that glean food. “Volunteers descend on farm fields and reclaim some of the estimated 7 billion pounds of fresh produce left in the fields or sent to landfills each year, recovering it for the plates of millions who can’t afford it,” according to Chuck Raasch of USA Today.  Many of the volunteers are school aged children.  Gleaning is not something new.  It was practiced as far back as biblical times.  I like to imagine, however, that the modern creation of gleaning was someone’s dream.  They saw the waste and decided to gather it up to feed the hungry. 
My church, Saint Michael the Archangel in Cary has a sister parish in Honduras.  Each year we contribute to the needs of the people in that parish.  We provide books and clothing for children, build buildings, provide medicine and the ability to acquire clean water.  A team of parishioners travel there each year to do whatever they can for the sister-parish.  My daughter in law, Belen Baca Costa and her family have an organization that raises money for the poor of Ecuador so the children will have presents at Christmas time and those families, therefore, won’t be forced to beg on the streets (http://hotelcotopaxiecuador.com/NoBeggingProject/tabid/333/Default.aspx)  When I was at the John C Campbell Folk School, my teacher, Patricia Sprinkle, author and creative writing teacher, shared the story of her journey to India to teach creative writing to the “untouchables” and of her work in the Church of the Brethren with whom she had recently led a group to help children in Louisiana after hurricane Isaac.   Thank God, these are just a tiny example of the good people who are doing by pursuing their dreams.
Of course, one need not look to or go to a foreign country to make a positive difference.  Every day people walk out their front doors and head off to help others.  Our volunteers can be found in hospitals, homeless shelters, food banks and schools to name just a few.  I myself had the dream of creating a yoga retreat for breast cancer survivors and from that dream came the Pink Ribbon Yoga Retreat (.org)
Organizations that are born from the dream of someone who wants to make a difference in our world must also be part of God’s dream.  End abuse, cure cancer, bring solace to suffering, food to the hungry, shelter to the homeless; the dreams of a higher order and each individual who steps out to add to the comfort, to bring “favor and blessings” to another are part of the vision our world so desperately needs. 
There are so many dreamers in our world.  What’s one of yours?  So many dreamers have made their dreams reality.  Whether it’s a trip to a far away place, a new charitable endeavor or a ride in a balloon, it’s important to pursue our dreams. Yes, each time a dream comes true, the world becomes a brighter place and isn’t that exactly what the world needs, more joy and more light?

Financial Prosperity

Affirmation: We attract financial prosperity.



Money! I’m fairly thrifty on most things. But, I don’t like to feel like I have to be thrifty. I like to choose to be thrifty. Can you see the difference? It reminds me of some diets I’ve been on. As soon as I felt I was denying myself of some specific food, I wanted it more. I belong to Weight Watchers Online and I am fascinated by the amount of food I can eat and also that I can eat anything I want, within a reasonable amount. It seems to be working for me. It’s the same with money, I don’t mind watching my pennies, I just want to do it because I have a responsibility to be financially aware and prudent not because we are in dire straits. Maybe an ounce of prevention will help to keep us from being in real financial difficulties, maybe.

The affirmation: We attract financial prosperity is one of the few affirmations in which I include my husband. Our finances are totally interwoven. I guess that’s fairly normal after more than 40 years of marriage. I remember the first time I told him about this affirmation. I told him it was: “I attract financial prosperity.” We were in church. He was pretty skeptical. Then the donation basket was passed and I asked him for some additional cash to put in it. Being the great guy he is, he immediately handed me more money. “See”, I said, “I do attract financial prosperity!” He smiled and just shook his head.



The topic of money is a very touchy topic. Think about it, almost any topic seems to be fodder for the media, especially the talk shows. We all seem to know more about people, especially the “stars” than we ever wanted to know. But, seldom is money, especially someone’s income an open topic. Do you know how much money any of your friends or relatives make? Probably not. It’s the final taboo. It’s also the number one reason for people to divorce. Many couples come into a relationship with completely opposite ideas about finances. One wants to “save for a rainy day” and another wants to “enjoy the moment.” Finding a happy medium appears to be a real stumbling block for many marriages.

My study group, The Seekers, read the book Second Blooming for Women. One of the topics has led to a lot of discussion both within and outside the group. The statement is, “If money were no object ________.” How would you fill that in? I love asking people this question.

My husband has a story about being in speech class in college. He decided to speak about the song “If I Ruled the World.” To gather information, he went around asking people what they would do if they ruled the world. One person he asked was a young co-worker. He was the delivery fellow at their local pharmacy. This young man gave the question a great deal of thought and finally shared, “I would have someone set me up in business.” Sandy, my hubby, said, “I don’t think you get it. You RULE the whole world.” The young man again gave it quite a bit of thought and what do you think he answered? “Yup, if I ruled the world, I’d have someone set me up in business. That’s what I’d do.”

When I was first confronted with the fill in the blank about money, I must admit my vision was limited. Not as much as the delivery guy but more than I like to admit. Then, after speaking with my group, I found myself imagining all sorts of altruistic activities. “No object” you say, “Well, I’d cure cancer, make sure everyone had any proven, available inoculations, feed the hungry, especially the children and finally, I would make a supreme effort to educate the women of the world.” I might have to own a private jet in order to get around tending to the whole world but I’m willing to do whatever is necessary.

 

Then came the real revelation. Money may be limited but that doesn’t mean I can’t still devote some of my income to those things I feel are important. My donations may not take care of the whole world but it would at least take care of a part of it. I do set aside part of our income to give to charity. As we shared some of our ideas, it came to me that I have also been giving money to educate women. I make a monthly donation to my high school, Saint Agnes Academic High in College Point, N.Y. It’s an all girl school and I credit it and the teachers I had for the life I now live. It was a wonderful environment. It showed me my potential. I had nuns and lay teachers who had their PHDs in Mathematics, English, and Latin, to name a few subjects. They were remarkable women and by being in their presence, I began to see that I too could educate myself and reach heights I never before dreamed possible.

What about you? If money were no object what would be your priorities? Remember, we are spiritual beings. We have the gifts and ability to tap into the unseen, the unknown, the power of God! Truly, the only limits that exist are the limits we place on ourselves. It’s our choice; do we go to the ocean with a thimble, a bucket or a pipeline? It’s all yours just like the sun shines on all of us, prosperity can belong to everyone; dream large.

Miraculous Happenings

Affirmation:
My
life is Joy filled, Miracles occur, Love surrounds me and permeates every
aspect of my existence.

We all know that
in the classic Alice in Wonderland, Alice jumps down a rabbit hole into a whole
other unknown, full of adventure, self-examining world.  Sometimes we are pushed down that hole and
sometimes we choose to jump but either way, we get to decide what we’ll learn
and what we’ll take away from our experiences.


After being
treated for breast cancer in 1999, I was left feeling very unsure of what I
should be doing for myself.  During the
intense treatment, which for me lasted almost a year, I was well cared for and
in constant contact with my doctors and other caregivers.  Then the day came when I was
“released.” I had had my last radiation treatment.  We, the family and I, actually threw an
“end of radiation celebration.” Sure, I was scheduled for follow up
mammograms and yearly checkups but other than that I was on my own.  Yes, in many ways we are always “on our
own” as we go through cancer but for me, being released, while a reason
for celebration, was also very scary.  I
began looking for those things that might help me feel supported, educated and
uplifted.

As a long time
yoga practitioner, I turned to the yoga world to see what might be out
there.  It was in 2000 that I made my
first trip to Kripalu Yoga Center in The Berkshires of Massachusetts.  It was there that I had the thought about
creating a yoga retreat for breast cancer survivors.  I envisioned several days at the beach,
yogaing, resting, swimming, talking, and breathing!  In 2005 the first Pink Ribbon Yoga Retreat
for women breast cancer survivors became a reality.   My jump down the rabbit hole had taken me to
one of the most amazing, fulfilling adventures of my life.

As of this writing
here in 2012, a few hundred women have experienced all the things I envisioned
and so much more than I ever imagined. 
This retreat has been Spirit Driven and Divinely Blessed since its
inception.  Have you ever been involved
in something like this, something that takes on a life of its own, something
that comes together and blossoms with a miraculous aura?

I have never
approached an individual or an organization that has not generously agreed to
help us in whatever way they could.  The
first person to say yes was Rhonda Bailey, a yoga instructor and friend.  She set the standard for everyone else.  After that, with the support of The Duke
Cancer Patient Support program, we were ready to go.  Our teachers generously volunteer their time and
talent.  Our friends and family come
forward every year to help defray the costs and to provide scholarships for
those who are unable to pay. One woman took it upon herself to buy cushy beach
towels for everyone.  We had homemade
biscotti and pound cake.  A local
ice-cream shop donated sundaes for everyone and one of our committee members
made the supreme effort to go taste several of the flavors beforehand.  Every year we raise enough money with the
efforts of my husband, Sandy, to help pay for anyone who wants to come on
scholarship.  It’s phenomenal how it all
comes together and it’s obvious to all of us there that the success of this
event is beyond anything most of us have ever experienced.  It has to have the hand of God in it.


Who comes to a retreat
like this?  Well, obviously, women who
have experienced breast cancer. 
(Although we have many people who want to come but don’t want to qualify
to come.) But, really what type of individual attends an event like this?  I am here to tell you, they are amazing
individuals.  They come from all over the
country.  Most of the women have heard
something about what goes on but it really is an unknown entity.  Many have never practiced yoga; many come
without knowing anyone else.  Some are in
the middle of treatment others have been out of treatment for years.  They don’t know what the accommodations are
like, who their roommate may be or what the food is like but they come
anyway.  They are the type of person who
isn’t afraid to jump down the rabbit hole. 
They are amazing, brave, adventurous human beings and when we gather we
get to share the adventure.
The focus of the
retreat, believe it or not, is not breast cancer.  Yes, we all have that in common and yes, the
subject comes up and people share experiences and more often than not, they
share what worked for them.  The focus of
the retreat is living life to the fullest. 
Each year, as in most yoga practices, we take an intention.  The first year the intention was that “it was
a joyful experience for Everyone involved.” 
One year we focused on an “Open Heart.” 
We also took the intention to “Stay in the Moment.”  In 2008, our intention was to “Marvel in the
Mystery.”

The retreat
provides multiple healing modalities. 
Besides yoga, which in itself is multi-dimensional; there’s the ocean,
art-therapy, massage therapy, silent walks and Yoga Dance.  Some people relate to some and not to other
modalities.  Other people need a little bit
of all of them but either way they all lead to an increased sense of well-being
and support. 

We begin and end
the retreat with a Sharing Circle.  I’m
sure there are many such rituals involved with other gatherings but I was
introduced to this ritual at Kripalu. 
There are many guidelines.  The
first, of course, is confidentiality.  We
go on to talk about using the “I” word, not the community “we.”  Only one person is allowed to speak at a time
and it’s highly recommended that everyone actively listen and not plan what
they might want to say.  In between each
speaker we take a collective in breath and sigh it out.  We imagine clearing the psychic white board
in the middle of the circle.  There are
other suggestions but these are the main ones. 
What happens during the circles? What happens during the four days?  Miracles occur.

Miracles, you say? 
What is miraculous about ice-cream and beach towels and homemade
goodies?  Well, for one thing they simply
appear, like the manna in the dessert. 
We never ask for these treasures. 
But, what is really miraculous is what happens to the mind, body and
spirit of each of the ladies and our one man (He’s the breast cancer counselor
for the DCPSP.)  by the end of the four
days.  A light comes on in each person.  There has been healing; there’s been a
renewed sense of hope.  The women have
found camaraderie and acceptance.  We
have laughed, cried, played, swam, created, danced and done yoga.  We have found power, the power in each of us
and as a group.  The event is laced with
miracles especially the overwhelming feeling of love that permeates each person
including me, as the retreat comes to a close.
 

If you’re interested in attending, you can look us up on
PinkRibbonYoga.org.

Imaginary Conversations

Affirmation:  I
release myself from imaginary conversations and fully trust in God’s loving
care.

This affirmation was created during a visit to our mountain
retreat place.  It’s a small two bedroom
condo in the North Carolina mountains, in a community called Hound Ears.  It’s called that because the two mountains it
lies between look like doggie ears, or so I am told.  The condo looks out over the hills, a few
ponds and a pristine golf course.  I
journal in the morning sitting on the porch. 
Many mornings I watch the mist rising from the hills as the sun begins
its ascent.  One morning there was a
heron flying through the mist.  I put up
a couple of potted plants containing Petunias so that there is food for the
humming bird who visits.  We have one
dear friend who calls it Shangri-La. 
Shangri-La being a fictional place described in the 1933 novel Lost
Horizon
by British author James Hilton. Hilton
describes Shangri-La as a mystical, harmonious valley. Shangri-La has become
synonymous with any earthly paradise but particularly a mythical Himalayan utopia — a permanently happy land,
isolated from the outside world. In the novel Lost Horizon, the people
who live at Shangri-La are almost immortal, living years beyond the normal
lifespan and only very slowly aging in appearance. (www.wikipedia.org)  Hound Ears is our Shangri-La and if you saw
the number of healthy, hearty octogenarians and nonagenarians who reside here,
you might think so too.

When I am in Hound Ears, I never want to leave but unlike many of
the residents who are retired and can come for six months, we are lucky if we
get to stay for a few weeks.  Most years
we have a lot of family and friends come visit and we enjoy many moments of
sharing time and making memories.  Then,
towards the end of our vacation we have some quiet time.  It’s a nice balance and gives me time to
reflect, write and pray. As the time to leave gets closer and closer, I have to
use all my tools to help me to not go home “early.”  I have to do all in my power to stay in the
moment and to relish the present so that I don’t leave this healing place
before the actual time.  Truly, it is a
mediation, a moment to moment meditation. 
As soon as I let go, my thoughts jump to home.  Home, some years, can mean I am returning to
what are for me, some challenging situations. 

I’ve been guilty of having many imaginary conversations with many
people.  Why do I say guilty?  Well, I am usually thinking about what I can
say, or what I would say or what I should have said or how about, what I could
have said!  What words would have been
more effective.  Will I have the right
words?  Are there any words?  Do I have the power to help someone else “see
the light” or the power to make someone else go from being sad and anxious to
happy and calm?  Can I say anything to
improve and lighten another person’s load? 
Have you ever been here?  Have you
ever had a continuous, one way conversation over and over?  The essence of suffering is wanting things to
be different than they are and that’s what I’m doing.  I am creating my own suffering  because I want to change the way another is
perceiving something.  Certainly, there are
communication tools that can sometimes achieve this desired result but it can’t
happen if I only have the conversation in my mind.  Writing, journaling helps me but this kind of
self-talk usually leads me to a very unsettled feeling.  How can it not?  There is no resolution.  It never really ends. It’s like a recording
on repeat.  But, it serves no purpose,
does it?  It takes one away from the
moment.  It takes me into my imagination
and unless I choose to paint it, sculpt it or as now, write about it, it has no
closure. 

According to the Myers-Briggs personality test all of us fall
either into the “introvert” or “extrovert” category.  There is a range in each section so one’s
score can be high or low on the scale. 
What the authors of this test are referring to when they use the words
introvert and extrovert are not how you relate to people but more, how you get
your energy.  An extreme introvert might
need to be alone most of the time while an extreme extrovert might need to be
out with people all the time.  The
category also refers to how one may communicate.  One type of personality says exactly what
they’re thinking when they’re thinking it. 
The other personality type ruminates on what they want to say, sometimes
over and over depending on the degree of introversion before they say
anything.  Just ask yourself if you have
to “practice” what you want to say before you make a phone call, especially a
call involving something that requires a resolution.  Your answer will give you some indication of
whether you’re an “E” or an “I.”  I am a weak
“I.”  I practice and depending on the
situation, I can find myself practicing way too much.

Mind you, I’m not practicing for the best.  I am usually practicing for what I think will
be an uncomfortable conversation.  One of
my other affirmations is “The best is yet to come.” but when I’m facing some
potential confrontation, it’s really hard for me to call that one into
existence. 

When I began creating the affirmation about “imaginary
conversations”, I found myself using the phrase “obsessive thoughts.”  I release myself from “obsessive
thoughts.”  But, the longer I worked on
it, the more I realized it was more than that, it was the whole motion picture
I was developing or perhaps even a mini-series. 
Wow, I was really good at writing this story.  I found that what I really wanted to
accomplish was to stop writing fiction, at least with regard to the issues I
was facing when I would return home.  I
began writing, “I release myself from imaginary conversations and fully trust
in God’s loving care.”  I know I am much
better off letting God write the story. 

After several days of writing the affirmation in my morning
pages, I began to feel my body relax. 
All the tension would seep away. 
What else did my new thought call to me? 
Mornings of journaling as I watch the mist rise from the hills, joy from
the presence of the hummingbird as it flit around my planters and an invitation
to share my yoga practice with a friend who’s looking for some calming
tools.  As I prepared for the session, I
renewed several of my own peace giving practices; daily breathing rituals,
guided mediations, gratitude and release sun salutations and regular deep
breaths. 

My new affirmation brought peace, contentment and a sated
feeling.  This is a perfect moment.  I am blessed and resting in God’s loving
care.  As the pastor at St. Bernadette’s
in Linville, NC said in his homily, “People, we have it all.  We want for nothing.”  That’s it. 
I want for nothing, that is my meditation, at least for this moment and
truly, isn’t that all we have?

Opening to Miracles

Affirmation:  I know by meditating on Jesus throughout my
day, I am in union with the Divine; miracles are created and without struggle
my life is transformed in ways beyond my imagination

My mom has always
been a very self-sufficient, independent woman. 
Truly, her spirit was the reason I went to college.  I was the first generation in my family to
attend and graduate from a university. 
No one encouraged me to go on after high school.  It was 1960 and I was a girl from the blue
collar working class.  My future
according to societal norms and my dad was to develop good clerical skills,
marry and raise children.  But, my mom, a
very smart lady, had tasted the life of financial independence and knew there
were larger opportunities and would nudge me every so often to check them
out.  I guess it didn’t take more than a
little nudge, especially since I was at St. Agnes Academic High School for
girls and was with all these brilliant young women who were planning their
futures and their first step was college.

My mom, Margaret (never
Maggie, Peg or Peggy) moved to North Carolina when she was 75.  She made the move with little help from the
family and started to create a new life almost immediately. She volunteered at
The Food Bank, took a part-time clerical position with a non-profit, became an
officer in the Cary Senior Association and became a Raleigh Ambassador, touring
the city and assisting at dozens of special events, including the Special
Olympics.  She was one of the first
people to join the Cary Senior Center and instrumental in bringing line dancing
to the facility.  (She always loved to
dance.)

She went from
living in a condo, to a senior apartment complex and then to an independent
senior complex with some services.  Then
at 89 1/2 her body seemed to start to shut down.  We did everything in our power, everything,
to make her comfortable, to make sure she maintained her dignity.

The calls for
help came more and more frequently and they were filled with more and more
panic.  My heart ached.  Part of me wished she would be spared the
dying process and just go to sleep and not wake up. We’ve had several friends
and relatives who died in their sleep. 
Ann Landers once said her life goal was “to die healthy.” I
want that too.  I want that for my mom,
for all of us but, that’s not the usual, is it? 
When we took mom to the cardiologist to make sure her heart was ok, he
said “I only hope I have a heart like hers at age 89.” So, I wasn’t
holding much hope for her for a quick, easy death.

The decision I
was faced with after the last panic filled phone call was, “How can mom be best
cared for and who can help me decide this?” Certainly, I was so
emotionally involved I wasn’t very clear-sighted.  I called both her doctors, compassionate,
kind women and they did what good doctors do best, they listened and guided
me.  Then, I called my family.  But, I must say I had been calling my Lord,
the Blessed Mother, all our Angels and Guides for many years and especially for
these last few weeks, asking for them to pave the way, to smooth the path and
to light the dark road of my mother’s care. 
And, on that day of the most recent panic phone call all the forces of
nature and God came together.  For any of
you that have dealt with this kind of situation, you will recognize the hand of
God.

Within the next
six hours mom was living in an assisted living facility.  Her new apartment was completely decorated
and fully operational, even cable TV.  My
husband had immediately come home from work. 
By the time we arrived at mom’s home, my daughter had spoken with the
administrators of her facility and had secured mom a place in the assisted
living facility.  Her doctors came within
the hour and signed all the forms.  My
son brought in lunch and my daughter-in-law took mom to another room in the
building and shared lunch with her and kept her entertained while we dismantled
her apartment and moved everything to her new space.  My brother who lives in another state  “just happened” to have a meeting
close by and was already on his way towards us when I called him.  His wife and daughter were also on their way.

When my
daughter-in-law wheeled mom into her new home, the look on her face said it
all,  even mom’s drapes were
installed.  She said “This is
amazing!” It was amazing.  It was a
miracle!  And, I fully realize I can only
see the tip of the miracle.  All the
forces that had come to support us may never be revealed.  My prayers, the prayers of our family and
friends had all been answered.

What if I lived
my whole life believing God, the Universe, had only miracles in store for
me?  Think of the power I could rely
on.  Think of the calm that would
permeate my mind, body and spirit. 
Think of the joy that would fill my heart!  To truly believe that God wants only my best
and it’s up to me to be completely open and trusting in order to receive the
blessings.  Yes, my job is to stay fully
connected to God, to allow Her to do the work She wants to do.  For me, that means praying incessantly; a
deep breath, sighing the name of Jesus and opening my heart to the miracles of
life.

Love is Your Only Job

There
are many asanas (poses) in yoga that are designed to help one open their
heart.  For example, any sort of back
bend will put you in a position where your chest is raised towards the sky.  Even a slight back bend opens the heart as in
Fish pose.  In the book Eat Pray Love,
Liz Gilbert tells a story about a man she meets in the ashram in India who
shares he’s been seeking an open heart. 
She asks him what motivated him to come to the ashram and he tells her
he kept asking God to “open his heart.” One day he had a heart attack
and his heart was literally opened.  One
need not have surgery to create a more open heart.  There are many more gentle ways to accomplish
this worthwhile trait.

Many
years ago when my children were younger I found myself struggling with one
particular incident.  I felt very hurt by
this episode and was sharing it with a good friend.  It really wasn’t such a big deal looking back
on it but at the time I was upset and I felt I was justified in my complaining.  So, there I was moaning about the
situation.  She listened and then gave me
some of the best advice I have ever had in my whole life.  She said, “Remember, Jean, your only job
is to love.”
As
a journaler who has written three pages every morning for the last 20 years, I
have many many journals boxed up.  Every
time I begin a new journal I transfer a few things to the front paper pockets
and the beginning pages.  I transfer my
intentions for the year, my daily prayers, my list of people I am presently
praying for and my positive affirmations. 
I also write on the inside of the front cover, “Remember, Jean,
your only job is to love.” 
I
believe that with all my heart.  It’s the
main message Jesus Christ came to give us. 
When he was asked; Mt 22:36 “[Jesus], which is the great commandment in
the law?” He said to them, ‘’You shall love the Lord your God with all your
heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and
first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as
yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” 
Why
do some people seem to have a greater capacity to love than others?  Do you think it’s because of their DNA or is
it because of their upbringing?  Is it
“nature” or “nurture”? 
It’s probably like most of our traits, it’s a combination of both.  But, can we learn to love more, love greater?  Can we be people who can love no matter
what?  You’ve heard the stories about
people who forgive their worst enemies. 
Can you learn to love an enemy? 
Can one learn to separate the sinner from the sin?
I’ve
been very lucky in my life.  I married a
man who has a huge heart.  I believe he
was genetically predisposed to being a loving, kind man and then, he had the
additional advantage of having amazing parents who showed him by example
exactly what unconditional love is, especially his mother. I have never heard
my mother-in-law say anything, ever, that was derogatory about another human
being, and especially about someone in her family.  My husband teases that if we had a bank
robber in the family his mom would say, “He’s the best bank robbed
ever!”
On
my travels through Ecuador, I was kissed in three weeks more times than I have
been kissed in three years.  Almost
everyone I met gave me a kiss on the cheek and a warm hug.  One day we went to the soccer practice of my
consuegra’s (my daughter-in-law’s mother) granddaughter.  Six of us sat in the bleachers watching her
practice, her three grandparents, her aunt, my son and myself.  When the girls were finished practicing the
entire team came up to the stands to greet us. 
I watched these teenage girls start down the row kissing and greeting
all the grandparents, then they kissed the aunt.  I thought they’d stop at that point and was
amazed when they continued on to kiss my son and then me, two people they
“didn’t know from Adam.”
I
know it was a cultural response to greet us all in that manner but at thispoint
in my travels I’d been greeted like this for several weeks.  Greeted and welcomed into people’s homes,
lives and in some cases into their hopes and dreams.  As far as I could see these people in this
culture responded with more affection and respect than I normally experienced.  I had the honor of being hosted by my consuegra
and I can share with you that the hugs and warm daily greetings and goodnights
were freely shared with anyone who happens to be in her home.
When
I first received the directive to love no matter what, I remember thinking,
“I can do that.” But, I must admit it is easier said than done.  There are many in my life that I find very
easy to love and there are some I struggle to love.  Some days I feel like my heart is closed and
hard.  When I am aware of that state, I
engage my breath to help me open up.  I
take several deep breaths and visualize my heart expanding in my chest, like a
red balloon.  I’ve also done many other
“open heart” mediations.  These
mediations usually involve inviting loving thoughts and feelings into one’s
heart.  First, you invite those who you
find easy to love, then you invite someone you may be struggling with and
finally, you invite yourself.  You take
the time to allow each person to rest within the warmth of your bosom and then
you release them and yourself out into the universe, full of light and warmth
and wonderful energy, a release that blesses you, them and the world.
I
believe we can learn to love more fully, more deeply, unconditionally.  But, I think there’s a secret.  I don’t think we need to be born into a
family of warm blooded Latinos or Italians. 
It’s nice if we’re born into a loving, affectionate family.  It probably makes it easier but the secret is
to learn to accept love, to believe you are worthy of love, to believe that you
are truly loved, loved for who you are because you are and not for any other
reason.  We need to believe we are loved,
loved first and foremost by God.  We need
to know without a doubt that we are amazing wonderful beings who deserve to be
loved.  Once we can fully embrace that
concept, we can open our heart to receive and then to give that which we have
received.  If we don’t accept it, we
can’t, it is impossible, to give it out. 
It’s like filling up the car with gas. 
If you don’t open the gas cap and let the gas flow in, you won’t be able
to go anywhere.  You’ll be stuck in one
place, empty and dried out.
What
if you approached everyone in life with the thought, “Remember, (your
name), your only job is to love.”? What kind of an effect would that have
on your relationships, on you, on your life? 
What kind of an effect would that have on our world? 

Faith or Fear, You Choose

Affirmation:  I let go
of fear and anxiety.
The paper the technician handed me read, “We are pleased to inform you
that the results of your recent mammogram show no evidence of cancer.” I
had dodged another bullet.  I had escaped
death once again.  I could breathe a
little easier for another year.  It had
been over a decade since I was treated for cancer but somehow it didn’t matter
on the morning I had my appointment. 
It’s usually been a very early appointment.  I have an hour’s drive and I have trouble
getting out of the house.  I know
why.  I have the same trouble getting to
the dentist on time.  I was afraid.  I was nervous.  Mind you, I am not planning on getting cancer
again.  Of course, I wasn’t planning on
getting it the first time.  I know a lot
of people who carry around the worry of a cancer diagnosis, especially if
there’s a family history.  My elderly
aunt had breast cancer and my father died of a brain tumor at the age of 62 but
I took really good care of myself.  You
know, I ate right, I exercised and I monitored my thoughts.  I never dreamed I’d have breast cancer.  I was truly shocked when I was told the
diagnosis.
I have since discovered it’s not an unusual reaction.  Many many people are simply rolling along
when they receive this diagnosis.  The
truth is we should be less surprised to not receive some sort of health
challenge at some point in our lives rather than the other way around.  One man who is a patient at the Preston
Robert Tish Brain Tumor Center told a group of us that he had a headache and
surprisingly woke up from it in the hospital. 
He was a very robust man with an abundant amount of energy and a big
personality.  He heard them saying,
“You have a brain tumor, a glioblastoma.”  He laughed and said, “You’re talking to
the wrong person.  You’ve made a
mistake.” But, they hadn’t.
These diagnoses are like terrorist’s attacks.  One day you’re walking down the street and
BOOM, a bomb goes off.  There might have
been a warning sign but many times there is not. One of my physicians
graciously told me that the cancer wasn’t anything I did or didn’t do; it was a
“random act of violence.”  In
one way, that gave me a lot of comfort. 
I didn’t need to find blame either within or without but it meant that I
was vulnerable to the whims of the world and with that thought, I found I felt
unsafe.  It left me fearful.  I wondered what else was going on inside my
body that I was totally unaware of?  And,
I was afraid.
Fear can be a debilitating disease. 
It can rob us of our joy, of some of our happiest moments.  It can steal our whole lives from us if we
let it but how do we deal with it?  When
I was invited to join my daughter-in-law on a trip to Ecuador, I didn’t
hesitate to say yes but I want to confess I was afraid.  I have read many stories of people being
abducted in third world counties and taken off into the jungle, or worse and
being held for years and years.  I knew
this fear of being kidnapped was irrational but was it?  Maybe I simply wasn’t listening to my
spiritual guides who were telling me not to go? 
But, I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity, so my guides and angels
had better step up and protect me.  I was
also extra vigilant and extremely careful. 
As I sat on the steps of the Virgin de Panecillo at the top of Quito
looking out over the evening lights of the whole city, I cried.  I thought, “Fear might have kept me from
having this experience.  How horrible
that would have been.” It wasn’t the first time I shed tears on that trip
and it wasn’t the last.  It was an
amazing journey. 
So, on that early Friday morning when I was heading off for my yearly
mammogram, I recognized the visitor who had arrived with the ringing of my
alarm clock.  Fear was here. I recall the
first time I heard the phrase; Faith or fear. 
It was in a sermon at a church I was visiting.  It was one of those moments when I felt a
light go on.  I knew exactly what the
priest was talking about.  I had a
choice.  How was I going to live my life?  Well, I decided right then and there, I was
not going to have my life’s choices dictated by fear.  And, I have been deciding that every day,
ever since.  I have had to make it a
meditation.  There are days, like on that
early Friday morning of my appointment when I had to decide moment to moment to
stay centered and calm.  Deciding was the
easy part; making the choice, putting it into practice, well, that’s a whole
other story. Once again, I was faced with finding a way to live with Faith and
to let go of the fear.  That’s when I
created the affirmation:  “I let go
of fear and anxiety.”  It’s evolved
over the years.  I now not only focus on
the letting go of those emotions that don’t serve me; I now focus on
strengthening my Faith.  I have several
affirmations that I say to increase my sense of well-being; to make me believe
that no matter what is happening, I am alright because my Faith is strong and
helping me stay in a good place.
I am now officially a “cancer survivor.” You actually get to
claim that title whenever you want. 
There are no hard and fast rules. 
A few years back my breast oncologist approached me with the concept of
creating a Survivorship Clinic which women like myself, women who were out of
treatment for several years and appeared to be doing well, would visit for
their yearly appointment, instead of seeing him.  I agreed. 
My visit at Duke this Friday morning was to be in this clinic with a
physician’s assistant who specialized in breast cancer treatment.  It included an hour group session, the
mammogram and a full exam.  Well, I
really didn’t need a group session. 
There wasn’t really any more information I could gather.  I was fine. 
Right! 
There I sat with six other people, only three patients and a
nutritionist, a breast oncologist and the PA. 
The topics quickly turned to how to stay optimally healthy, what effect
a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment has on one’s long term health and what
our best choices might be.  It was a
delightful morning, informative and empowering. 
The other people in the group were very interesting.  The information they shared was extremely
helpful. I invited a dear friend to join me for the mammogram appointment.  We had a nice visit.  Actually, I had a really good time.  I was given that wonderful paper announcing
my cancer free breasts, I learned some new things, I had a wonderful exam and I
visited with a dear friend and met a few really interesting new people.
My daily affirmation to deal with the uncertainties of life focuses on
my faith in God.  One, I tell myself
that, “When I stay focused on the present, my life is peaceful.”  And, along with that I tell myself, daily,
sometimes moment to moment that, “Because of my relationship with my Lord
Jesus Christ, I can let go of fear and anxiety and fully trust in His loving
care for me.” 
I made it back from Ecuador without being kidnapped.  I made it through my yearly breast
appointment without a cancer diagnosis. 
I know I will experience other challenges in my life, things I may not
even be able to imagine but with my focus on Faith, by letting go of the fear,
I hope that whatever life brings, I will have at some point in the experience
tears of joy and be saying to myself, “Fear might have kept me from having
this experience.  How horrible that would
have been.”

Attachment-The Third Klesha

Affirmation:  I love unconditionally, non-judgmentally and without attachment.
The homily was from John 12:20-33, “(25) whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.”  I must say I was a little worried by this scripture.  I love my life.  Does that mean I am destined to eternal hell?  I’ve worked really hard to reach a place where I can claim that.  I haven’t always felt that way and personally, it feels great.  According to the priest I was in deep trouble.  I really wanted to put my hand up and say, “Father, I don’t believe that.  Can we discuss this a little further?  I have a few ideas and I’d like to open this whole concept up for more discussion.”  Unfortunately, or perhaps, fortunately, that is not an option that I’ve ever seen claimed in the middle of mass.  Oh, I’ve seen people get up and walk out when they disagreed with what was being said but I’ve never (and I’ve been going to church for well over half a century) seen anyone ask for clarification during a sermon. But, that gave me the opportunity to look at this closer and to examine what I think Christ was telling us.  Most of His message is about one thing, Love.  So, how would this scripture be interpreted in the light of love? 

Have you noticed that we are creatures of habit?  Speaking of church, have you noticed that people always tend to sit in the same section, some in the same pew and others only in one specific seat?  Someone sat behind me one day and I heard her say in exasperation, “Someone is in my seat.”  Now, I’m not familiar with all the places of worship in the world but in the churches and synagogues I’ve been in, I’ve never seen a nameplate on the seat of a bench.  I am fascinated by this desire for certainty.  The gym I belong to has several types of fitness classes and there too people seem to need to be in the same place every time they attend a class.  One day, I watched a gentleman set up his equipment in an area he wasn’t aware “belonged” to another lady.  She came into the class and went over to him to tell him he was in her spot.  I was dumbfounded and I must confess I judged harshly even though it had nothing to do with me.  I was curious how this interaction would go and was charmed when the usurper apologized for not paying closer attention, thanked her for informing him and picked up his stuff and moved over.  I’ve also been in a similar situation in a dance class and couldn’t figure out why this woman who came in late kept stepping on my toes as we bounced across the gym floor until I finally realized I was in her spot. 

My main concern with this type of attachment is for my own well-being.  I’m afraid if I stay in the same place whenever I’m in a familiar locale, my mind will stop expanding, my neurotransmitters will get smaller and smaller and so will my whole world.  I know the importance of stepping outside of my comfort zone.  If I’m aware of my desire for routine, even small ones, like eating at the same place in the kitchen every morning or choosing the same food for lunch every day, and choose differently periodically, I know that adjusting to larger challenges will be easier and not only will my mind not shrink but my world won’t shrink.  I don’t want to live in a small world;  I’m all into keeping “green.”
There is a tale about a Buddhist monk who was being threatened by a civilian soldier.  The soldier shouted at him, “Don’t you know who I am?  Don’t you know I can take your life?”  The monk looked at him calmly and said, “Don’t you know who I am?  Don’t you know that I don’t care?” and then he slowly walked away.  That is not being attached.

Patanjali, the grandfather of Yoga claimed that by practicing the eight limbs of yoga one would be helped with conquering the five human afflictions that cause suffering (kleshas):  ignorance, egoism, attachment, aversion and possessiveness.  The third klesha, raga, attraction, creates in us a pattern of acquisition: we began to pursue human relationships, knowledge, wealth, status, power-anything which might be capable of enlarging and protecting our fragile individualized existence. But because change is the nature of creation, all objects within it are impermanent, and thus subject to loss at any moment.   (http://www.physics.udel.edu/~bnikolic/klesa.html)

In the March 1993 issue of Guideposts Magazine there was a short article by Catherine Marshall called Prayer of Relinquishment.  In it, she tells the story of Mrs. Nathanial Hawthorne, wife of the famous American author. Mrs. Hawthorne wrestled in prayer in the city of Rome one day in 1860.  Their oldest daughter, Una was dying.  As she urgently prayed for thier daughter’s healing a strange thought arose in her, she decided to let her go.  She prayed to God to take Una, if that was best. “I give her to Him.  No, I won’t fight against Him anymore.” According to the story, an even stranger thing then happened, minutes later she went back to their daughter’s bedside and found the girl sleeping naturally, without temperature or restlessness.  She was healed.

When I begin my yoga practice, I do three sun salutations.  In the first one I thank God, out loud, “for the beautiful new day” and as I reach for the ground, (uttanassana) I say “and I relinquish it to You.”  In the second one, I thank God for “this amazing life and I relinquish it to You” and in the third salutation I pray, “Thank You, Lord Jesus for this amazing, healthy, healing body and I relinquish it to You.”  Oh, yes I take it back over and over during the day but each morning I begin anew. 
This is the message I believe Christ was sharing with us.  We must die to self.  We must let go of all the stuff that we think we possess, because in reality it possesses us.  We are being called upon to believe in the goodness and ultimate care of a loving God, someone whom we can trust will care for all of our needs.  We don’t need to be in charge.  We don’t need to hold on tight.  We are being called upon to recognize that everything in our life, except God, is temporary and we are being told that when we can recognize and accept that principle, life will be more meaningful, we will be lighter and freer.