What a Wonderful World


 

Life is a glorious adventure. We are given opportunities to learn lessons and to face challenges. We are given happy times to make joyful memories and we are given times of such amazing joy, we need to pinch ourselves to see if it is real.  Life is golden and bright white light and it is such a good thing to be alive.

 

Life is also like that coin in your pocket. The one you flip and choose heads or tails with. Life can be painful and terrifying, it can be a waking nightmare. Ask a veteran what they think. Life can break your heart into small pieces. You can hear it crack open in the silence of your life. Life can produce as much darkness as it can light. It can take away your ability to trust and it can give you the friend who will be by your side for a score of years or more. Life can bring you shock or happy reverie and smooth sailing or rough seas.

 

So, in reality, life is a combination of events which can enrich and strengthen us or break us and leave us like a wounded bird at the bottom of a tree. What makes the difference?  We do. We are responsible for the outcome. We are not responsible for what life drops in our laps, but we are responsible for what we choose to do with it

 

Some people have rough lives and have a struggle year after year. Some of these people will rise up out of the mire and pull themselves up. Some will reach up to pull another person down with them. Some face terrifying heartache and loneliness and will do all that is humanly possible to make everyone around them as miserable as they are. Some choose to fill their hearts with an acid that damages their broken hearts even more than they were and are guaranteed to make someone else’s heart hurt as much as their own heart does.

 

Some people allow themselves to be so damaged, and seek no treatment for their damaged bodies, hearts and souls. Others will choose to seek help. To seek medication if necessary. Some will turn from the light that is in their lives and will seek to blot out that light wherever it can be found. Science hasn’t figured out yet why two people can go through the same horrible experiences and yet one will become a serial killer and one will spend their life trying to make the world better. Doctors and scientists are trying alternative measures to help people completely heal so that the remainder of their years on this plane can be filled with more light and love than they would otherwise have. Some choose to sneak around in the dark and making others suffer for what has happened to them. It is the innocent that they hurt. Perpetuating the problem and the pain.

 

It doesn’t matter if you believe in God, or which God you believe in. It doesn’t matter if life bent you or broke you. Each day is your choice. What are you going to do to make this world a wonderful place for yourself and for others? Tomorrow morning is a chance for you to make a new choice or to reinforce the ones you have all ready made.

 

No one can make this choice for anyone else. Never allow anyone to make it for you, even if your life is on the line. Each day wake up knowing you are what you are and you will make life easier, smoother and more loving for someone else. Or you will wake up, angry, resentful, bitter and try to make someone else feel the same way you do. I choose the love, joy, compassion, kindness and peace. That is my decision every day no matter what happens.

 

 

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The Tidal Nature of Life


The beach in the winter

The beach in the winter

“Most of us are about as eager to be changed as we were to be born, and go through our changes in a similar state of shock.”   ——James Baldwin

Change comes with each breath we take. Some people thrive on these changes and transitions. I have learned to flow with them. When I was younger, I was afraid of them and of what they would bring. With maturity came the realization that changes can’t be stopped. So I have learned to buckle my seat belt and to go with the flow. Now that we are in 2014, there will be changes in ourselves and in the world around us. You may feel at times as if you are walking a tight rope over a fast running river. The Divine will not let you fall as long as you trust and stay calm. If you do you will be surprised how must easier the path is than you expected.

Tree lined path into the woods

Tree lined path into the woods

The best solutions rarely come to pass swiftly. Time as well as distance may be necessary to the proper unfolding of events. What we can do is to surrender my sense of urgency and frustration. We need to ” stay calm” and to take slow deep breathes. Doing this will allow life to unfurl as a gentle wave. The kind you might surf in the summer. I love instant gratification, but the better plan is to breath and if life takes you on a longer fork in the road, you need to honor the tide of life. If we try to push things along in haste we are getting in the way of the Universe and what the Divine has planned for us. I accept the Divine’s divine timing in my life. We attune ourselves to the tempo of our highest good.

“People seldom see the halting and painful steps by which the most insignificant success is achieved.”  —Anne Sullivan

So to begin the new year, I embrace the timing of the Universe as my own timing. I place my faith in the divine wisdom that unfolds the seasons each in its own time. I allow myself to be nurtured by the Divine at the proper timing so I can be all I can be. Will there be bumps on your journey, yes there will. Will your journey take you where you are supposed to be when you are supposed to be there, yes you will be there. It is like riding the biggest roller coaster in the amusement park. You may scream, you may close your eyes and hold on, but it is the journey planned just for you. For myself, I do not like roller coasters any more but I am finding much more joy in life.  If you let yourself enjoy the ride, uou will too.

The earth is filled with the love from the Divine

The earth is filled with the love from the Divine

The Path of Peace


Wear peace, it is all you know.

Wear peace, it is all you own

Have you noticed that despite all of the discourse about the Affordable Healthcare Act and the typhoon, the Middle East is still simmering like a kettle of homemade soup? The area is very unstable and I think it won’t take much for it to explode. If it does, Israel and the United States will be receiving collateral damage. I am sure our military is looking at this and know much more than we could ever guess.

The only option we have to being drawn into another war, is the path of peace. We all talk a lot about peace, but each of us needs to do actions that are peaceful. I realize that I am probably preaching to the choir, but do each of us every day perform an act of peace? Peaceful acts to me means acts of kindness, acts of gentleness, reaching out a helping hand to someone in need.

The other day most of us saw the photo of the Pope kissing a terribly deformed person. I have seen it several times now and each time I come close to tears. Why? Because you don’t see that kind of compassion often. Usually that severe of a disfigurement will keepus all a couple of feet away. Yet this Pope walked his truth and kissed this man and blessed him.

It made me think of the Buddhist religion and their Goddess, Kuan Yin. She is the goddess of compassion. Think of peace as a recipe. We need equal amounts of compassion, love, acceptance, compromise and selflessness to make peace.

Path to peace

Path to peace

What the world needs now is love, acceptance, compassion, acceptance and each one of us must produce some every day. Are you ready to hold the door for someone with a cane?Would it occur to you to invite someone with no family to join  you for the holidays? If a neighbor asks if you could take them to the doctor, would you willingly do it? There are so many things that we can do as an act of peace.

There are killings, people suffering with severe mental illness, anger is found everywhere, paranoia, dissatisfaction every where we look. People trying to protect themselves  act without thinking. The Stand Your Ground Law  was to be used in an emergency situation. It was designed to save your life or the lives of those with you. Now it seems to be a legal way to take the life of minority people.

When the colonies were founded, most people had guns. There were the Indians who were upset that we were stealing their land, there were bears, and mountain lions and other wild animals who could kill you or you could kill them and eat the meat. All kinds of people came to America for a hundred reasons and some of them could have been mentally ill or could be carrying a grudge. People had real reasons to feel fear. After the revolution, we were forming a new country based on new thinking and an experiment as how to form our government. Laws and people to enforce those laws were not on every corner. I can see where people felt they needed a gun.This just isn’t true in the twenty first century.

Despite the danger the early colonists lived in, they were hospitable, kind, compassionate. Today we see anger, a disconnect from reality, we see selfishness, and greed. Now people barely talk, if they bump into you they give you a dirty look, drivers wear faces filled with hate and irritation. Why? Why is our world so filled with anger and hatred?  I have not lived a golden blessed life but I have had many blessings in it. 

I do feel that stress fits in here as well as the ability to earn a livable wage. I think we have become very materialistic and as technology increases, there is a race to keep up with the newest gadget. We have to pay for them and we have to learn how to use them. There is no privacy in our lives anymore. With the advent of social media, nothing is personal and private. I admit that when people post on their status, I am eating breakfast or something as inane it makes me a little crazy. Yeah, ok, so eat. The world is worrying about mass shootings, strange viruses, how to save their home, or how will they pay for college for their three children. Another thing we have to face is the fact that we are acquainted with many people but there isn’t the time to really know people and to make friends.

So the path of peace is something we need to work on every day on our journey. You don’t have to write a book, you don’t  have to win a Grammy. You just need to do something compassionate, ethical or kind every day. We’ll link them together and we will have our peace. And maybe we will have sacrificed the last of our children to the god of War.

Acheive peace; Albert Einstein

Achieve peace; Albert Einstein

She Let Go


She let go.
Without a thought or a word..
She just let go.

She let go of the fear.
She let go of the judgments.
She let go of the confluence of opinions
Swarming around her head.

Peace of mind

Peace of mind

She let go of the committee of indecision within her.
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.
Wholly and completely..
Without hesitation or worry..
She just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice.
She didn’t read a book on how to let go.
She didn’t search the scriptures.
She just let go.

She let go of all of the memories that held her back.
She let go of all of the anxiety
..that kept her from moving forward.
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations
..about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go.
She didn’t journal about it.
She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer.
She made no public announcement
..and put no ad in the paper.
She didn’t check the weather report
..or read her daily horoscope.
She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.
She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.
She didn’t call the prayer line.
She didn’t utter one word.
She just let go.

No one was around when it happened.
There was no applause or congratulations.
No one thanked her or praised her.
No one noticed a thing.
Like a leaf falling from a tree…
She just let go.

There was no effort.
There was no struggle.
It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.
It was what it was.. and it is just that.

In the space of letting go.. she let it all be.
A small smile came over her face.
A light breeze blew through her.
And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

~ Rev. Saphire Rose
Ernest Holmes

 

The first time I was told that I needed to let go, my whole entire body screamed NO!  Me, give up control? I couldn’t do that and I was frightened. So much had happened if I wasn’t in control, I could only imagine terrifying results. I talked to my spiritual teacher and he was really cool about it and said I didn’t need to. What a relief! But as I continues to study and meditation in a blue moon I would let something tiny go. Nothing happened. Nothing positive and nothing negative. Life continued to flow and I walked the path of my life’s journey. And  s  l  o  w  l  y I began to to go of more and more. I would come up against a wall and I would say”Ok, you try. I give this to you.” Changes began to happen. I finally realized that I could let go. My spiritual teacher passed away a short time later.

My husband had died many years before so I had a lot of feelings of being alone that I had had as a child when I was abused. Some really huge things began to happen in my life. Really big and affecting my health. So I took the biggest inhalation of my life and said, Beloved, you take care of this because I can’t. There was silence. There was nothing I could do so I waited and prayed and worked really hard to trust the Divinity within. Then  one day everything turned around and there was no longer a wall anywhere. And I was blessed. The thank you that came to my lips was but a whisper, a prayer of thanksgiving. I got braver and let go more often. Things didn’t always work out as I wished but what came to my life was good. So, now I just let go and trust that what comes or doesn’t come is for my highest good. My heart is grateful to my spiritual teacher who knew me so well. Had he pushed I would have run. In those days I could run  a lot. He knew that I would be taken where I needed to go. I am so grateful now that I didn’t avoid this lesson. Nothing grand has happened except that I know the Beloved knows the big picture which I don’t and I walk my path with an occasional slight push to keep me moving.  So I recommend that you do what you are able to and I know The One will be right there with you because we never walk alone.

Cleveland Botanical Gardens. Photographed and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2009

Cleveland Botanical Gardens. Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio  2009

               

Our Journey in Life


Autumn color

Autumn color

          Presque Isle, Pa.

The present moment, the here and now moment is the most important moment. Each moment is fleeting and passes us by very quickly. When we are children the present moment is their entire world. As adults, we know that each fleeting moment will be followed by another moment and another and another. The present moment of time in the history of the universe because it is the only time we have any control over.  This is why it is important to teach our children what is important, which values really count, and hope we have given them what they need to carry on after we are gone.

This means walking our path and traveling our journey. A major part of our journey in life is figuring out what our purpose is.  Just what is the reason we are put here? If our lives have not been enchanted, we wonder what is wrong. If we have experienced violence and abuse. Even though we are almost at the end of October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month,  Abuse can and will happen at any time during the year. You may not hear as much or read as much about it as you have been this month but those of us who  do work or did work in DV are still here and caring for your safety. Once again, I have to say you are never alone. If attempts are being made to isolate you, we are here. The hotlines will still work, the shelters will still be there and nothing will ever change this fact.

Purple ribbons signify that we do not accept Domestic Violence

Purple ribbons signify that we do not accept Domestic Violence

Be assured you were not put on a path of slavery, abuse and other forms of violence. The strength and determination to get yourself out and to a safe place is inside you. God wants none of us to suffer. You must not listen to the abuser who is telling you how stupid, and ugly you are. Emotional abuse will include that no one else will want you, you are a terrible parent, no one cares about what happens to you. If you are hearing lies like this know that they are not true. The Divine One is within you and you are strong, you are beautiul, you are intelligent.

So what is the reason we are here? Where is our journey taking us and what are we to discover? Some people find their answer with work, others with their avocation. Some form a link between the two.  To change the world for the better you don’t need to be a king, a prince, president or a prophet. God’s plan is that it only takes one human being, doing good right in the present moment.

Inside of yourself are seeds for you to sow. Seeds of hope in your own heart and in the hearts of people around you. This is how you build bonds by the ties of hope and trust. When you put yourself into a place of hope and trust it builds not only within  ourselves but also for the world. A positive, hopeful countenance to the world, then the small world that we call our everyday life can become richer with meaning and filled with the positive presence of hope.

 Truly Magestic Tree that come from a seed someone sowed to make their world a better place to be.

Truly Majestic Tree that come from a seed someone sowed to make their world a better place to be.

The Job of Creating


Red petunias and hardy Hibiscus. Flowers grown and photographed by Barbara Mattio; 2013

Red petunias and hardy Hibiscus. Flowers grown and photographed by Barbara Mattio; 2013

Some days you can create anything, everything. Some days there is nothing inside that lets you grapple with the sparks within to create. To create one must also be authentic. Life requires a kind of existential courage. So the creative spark, the authenticity of our lives and courage, must mingle together for the production of that creative essence.

For many of us, to produce the song, the novel, the painting, comes after a conscious search for our personal truth. The search isn’t going to be easy or smooth, but it will take you to your authentic self, if you never give up. It is a search worth everything it costs you.

When being authentic becomes a priority to you, it will live in your thoughts, in your writing, in your focus on the light which surrounds you. When you make a commitment to live authentically it is a challenge and a gift. Without it, your creativity slowly disintegrates and you have ash inside.

Kite flying on the beach  Photograph taken and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2013

Kite flying on the beach
Photograph taken and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2013

Authenticity is a spiritual path, a practical act, and an imperfect quest. The quest can be gripping, exciting, exhilarating and frightening. Authenticity can be elusive, yet necessary for any creative person.

” The dream is always running ahead. To catch up, to live for a moment in unison with it, that is the miracle.” —–Anais Nin

Magnolia done with oil pastels. Copyright 2012

Magnolia done with oil pastels. Copyright 2010 by Barbara Mattio

Meaning is another aspect to being creative. Meaning vibrates within us, it means something so we can accomplish authenticity. Artists know that a meaningful and authentic life is necessary and they must choose it. Then they can create.

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Balcony overlooking Jackson Square, French Quarter, New Orleans. Acrylic Paint on Canvas, painted by Barbara Mattio 2010 all copyright reserved

The Only Being


I am a child of the Universe

I am a child of the Universe

There are many religions and paths to journey in this lifetime. Everyone is certain that their way is the right way. I would like to put forth the theory that everyone is right. There is one Divine Being and it makes no difference what we call him/her/it. It doesn’t matter how we contact Divinity.

There is no God of any people who is not his God, no spiritual teacher of any creed who is not his teacher.There is no sacred scripture that he does not accept, since he is a worshipper of light and a follower of love. Yet he is free from all the world’s distinctions and differences.

The diversity of names in the universe to him is a veil of illusion which covers unity, the one life. Only One lives, and all manifestations are to him the phenomenon of that one life.

Sufi’s call their concept of God, the Beloved. They also call this Divinity Buddha, Mohammend and Jesus and Zoraster. Sufi’s are mystics and have contact with the One during meditation and certain practices. This Divine Being is all that is good and ideal in this universe. It is Beauty in its perfection.

Sufi’s believe that as high as is the ideal of a person, so high he rises in life. Then in the end he sees the Ideal was made by himself.

A Sufi does not withdraw from the world, but instead participates in life both by viewing it from above and from below. His holy book is nature and his community is the entire of mankind. So we are all united in love and adoration of the beauty of the Divinity of this Universe.

The Love of the Universe

The Love of the Universe

Raise the level of your life with thinking good thoughts.

Raise the level of your life with thinking good thoughts.

The Man Who Was Buddha


Sitting in meditation

Sitting in meditation

Buddha was a mortal being, He was a young prince who left his life of ease and a hefty inheritance. He wanted to find his own way in life. He began the journey of his life. A journey that would take him to enlightenment. His human heart and mind was as vulnerable as yours and mine. He gave up everything to find what his life lacked. I am sure in monetary terms, he lacked nothing.

Buddha is now considered an icon of peace and harmony, yet his mortal life was filled with all types of turmoil and love and loss. His journey changed the world forever,the truths he found along the way still influence people all around the world. He went from vagabond monk to an enlightenment for the world. Enlightenment has led many to find themselves and the true meaning of life.

Buddha’s enlightenment was a literal awakening to the fact that you can share in the depths of your own primordial awareness today just as Buddha did during his life. Buddha’s teachings after becoming enlightened engage all the aspects of people’s lives. ” Whoever sees me sees the teaching.” –Buddha. After his enlightenment, he was raised to the rank of immortal. Buddha literally became the truth.

 

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There is a Time


A time for everything on this earth.

A time for everything on this earth. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2013

” There is a time to work and play,
A time to eat and sleep;
A time to study and to pray,
A time to laugh and weep;
A time for fellowship that’s sweet,
A time for sacred song;
But never is there time to treat
A human being wrong.

There is a time to lift men up
And help them on life’s road;
A time to drain their bitter cup
And share their heavy load;
A time to bless them with our grace
And boost them all along;
But never is there time and place
To treat our fellows wrong.

There is a time to help men seek.
Our God who saves the soul;
A time to show them that the meek
Shall reach life’s highest goal;
A time to help them turn aside
And leave the wicked throng;
But never did our God provide
A time to treat men wrong.
——–Walter E. Isenhour

For each day there is that which is stable and that which brings change. May we each know when it is our time to stand strong and a time to embrace change. When we can be sure of these times, then we are in atunement with the Divinity of the Universe. We may not always understand but we can trust and follow our Divine intuition. This poem is from a book called “For This One Hour. My father gave it to me when I was sixteen years old. I have drawn comfort from it many times over the years. I hope you will also enjoy this selection.

Forest stream in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Photograph taken and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio

Forest stream in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Photograph taken and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2013

The Lord Be Praised


 

 

 

 

 

 

The Beloved hears the words of our hearts at all times.

” The lips of the one I love are my perpetual pleasure:
The Lord be praised, for my heart’s desire is attained

O Fate, cherish my darling close to your breast:
Present now the golden wine-cup, now the rubies of those lips.

They talk scandle about us, and say we are drunks—
The silly old men, the elders lost in their error.

But we have done penance on the pious man’s behalf,
And ask God’s pardon for what the religious do.

O my dear, how can I speak of being apart from you?
The eyes know a hundred tears, and the soul has a hundred sighs.

I’d not have even an infidel suffer the torment your beauty has caused
To the cypress which envies your body, and the moon that’s outshone by your face.

Desire for your lips has stolen from Hafiz’ thought
His evening lectionary, and reciting the Book at dawn.”
—–Hafiz, Translated from Persian by Peter Avery and John Heath-Stubbs

” The goal of the journeyer is the Beloved.
The goal of the Beloved is the journey.”
—-Hazrat Inayat Khan

“From my lips to God’s ears, ” May the love, gratutude, and ability to cherish the Divine flow freely from every molecule within us and reach you with the fragrance of love.

The love in the world rises to refresh and fragrance the realms of the Divine

The love in the world rises to refresh and fragrance the realms of the Divine