Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Water of Life - Wisdom's Waves

Modern sculpture entitled "The Water of Life"
by Stephen Broadbent in the cloisters of Chester Cathedral

Last evening! I reread the introductory words of poet and luminous monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, in his book The Heart of the Buddha. I'm in awe of Thich, Vietnamese zen monk, prolific writer, and peace activist, who was nominated for the Noble Peace Prize by Martin Luther King Jr.  The poet in him draws in the poet in me.

Thich's The Heart of the Buddha is the text for the class I'm taking at Clouds in Water Zen Center in St. Paul, Minnesota on the Noble Eightfold Path. It's my third class at the center. I am interested in mindfulness.

I also found a book on one of my book shelves last night that I thought I'd misplaced. But no, there it was: The Five Stages of the Soul by Harry R. Moody, PH.D., and David Carroll. Inside the book I found a copy of a flier from Chester Cathedral in England given to me by a former boss and friend. I love the prayer on the pamphlet.

A Prayer

forgive what we have been,
amend what we are
and make us what we should be;
for your Name's sake.  Amen.

I am so happy to have found Moody's book! It's full of wondrous spiritual stories that leave you captivated. Captivated by synchronicity and prayer. 

I am thankful for the beauty of Thich Nhat Hanh's leadership and wisdom in the world.
May the world move toward peace.

God's Blessing to You!

Stained glass windows at Chester Cathedral

Friday, March 30, 2012

Justice for Terrell Mayes, Jr.

Terrell Mayes, Jr. with his mother Marsha

Terrell Mayes, Jr.  I didn't know him; but I can't forget him. Three months have passed since
Terrell Mayes,  Jr. was shot in his north Minneapolis home in as his older brother led him to a closet for protection.

What caught my heart, what haunts me, is this was a practiced-drill taught by a caring mother. But on Dec. 26, 2011, it wasn't enough.  A bullet found this beautiful child, despite the safety plan of Marsha Terrell. It was determined --a random bullet took Terrell's life.  He was just starting to talk.

When I first heard this story on the news, I was struck by this drill that was in place for the safety of all Marsha Terrell's children. No one should need such a plan. But on the 2600 block of Colfax Ave. North in Minneapolis, the reality was different than in the neighborhood my son had lived. Somehow injustice was all around. And violence, guns with no end and no aim...that still found a precious boy with a dazzling smile.

What if we were all doing this drill that Marsha Ferrell had in place for her children? It's a chilling thought.  But three months ago, it was a chilling, deadly day.

Now the CrimeStopper fund for Terrell is over $10,000. Still no one has come forward. I've just donated in honor of Terrell Mayes, Jr. I know justice doesn't always come. But I pray it will this time. Perhaps we can make a difference.

Five CrimeStopper billboards are now in place in Minneapolis.

CrimeStopper Billboards for Terrell Mayes, Jr.            

To DONATE  click on the link below.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

It's So True - A Bride's Wish

Hindu Bride, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India.

They never said it;
But it's so true;
Always have a best friend
Merry you.

By Connie Nelson Ahlberg

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Prayer of the Cat

Top left: File:Sheba1.JPG by Dovenetel

Prayer of the Cat
You were wise
to give me
Nine lives, Lord;
Eight for learning my mistakes,
The ninth for Thee!
Don’t be fooled by my independence!
I still need a leg to rub against;
A lap on which to twirl;
You are my saucer of cream;
All a cat’s dream:
  simple and pure;
O Lord, don’t rise up or stir;
For need thee all whiskered-quiet
I purr.

1994 Connie Nelson Ahlberg
All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Great People Shape Our Lives

                 Pierre-Auguste Renoir

It is possible to live a simple life and achieve greatness.

Greatness defined as “making a difference.” One needn’t travel far

or discover a cure. Great people simply are. They aren’t out to impress,

but invariably they do. Their love, acceptance, and devotion over the

years provides the backdrop of growth, enabling each of us to flower

in their presence. While we are fortunate enough to have them with us,

we drink coffee, stretch out in their favorite chairs, and know love often

without it being said. Great people shape our lives.

                                                                                               1997 Connie Nelson Ahlberg

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Prayer of the Designated Worrier

The Prayer of the Designated Worrier

Lord, why did you give me these hands,
Knowing I would wring them?
Why are my molehills so high?

Yet, if I must spin in circles,
Let me weave a web of beauty;
If I must cry, may my tears glisten
Like dew droplets on my web in the sun;

May I, Lord, as your Designated Worrier,
Spin not only webs of worry,
But nets of peace, love and acceptance
Encircling each Your children;

May I bring to all your message!
     Holy Father & Holiest of Mothers, forgive my gnashing of teeth,
And all undue fuss!
Grant that your night, in all its splendor
Be the only black I see!

And, Lord, keep, O keep
Your Arm ever near my shoulder,
That I might lean,
With that I shall be a little less neurotic,
And as Your child--serene.

By Connie Nelson Ahlberg
1994 All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tethered to Thee

Blaue Seerosen (Nymphaea gigantea) by Paul Adam

Prayer of the Tethered

Why, Lord,
am I always
at the end of my tether?

Why is it others who seem untied
appearing free
to live and love
so serenely?

O help me not
to add to my duress
or seemingly chose my stress;

Push me so I may float
on a pond
like a lily, Lord,
all effortlessly
to Thee.

By Connie Nelson Ahlberg
All Rights Reserved.
   Honoring Prayers from the Ark
   By Carmen Bernos De Gasztold

Saturday, March 17, 2012

May Angels Abide With Thee

Galego: Santuario da Virxe da Barca, Muxía
by Froaringus

A Saint Patrick's Day Blessing

May Angels Abide With Thee

May angels abide with thee
When you open your eyes;
And as you rise;
May wings protect your walk
And very breath;

Each day shall you be treasured
Like the grace of heirlooms
Handed down;
That your walk be sturdy
And your talk be honest and plain;

May ya family flourish
From all that is sacred
     Always knowing thou art never alone:
       As Angels, Dear One, have been ASKED--
to abide with thee.

             By Connie Nelson Ahlberg - March 15, 2012

Thursday, March 15, 2012

There Is A Light

The Sun - Wikipedia

There Is A Light

There is a light in you
That always shines
Uniquely from you--
Even if you think
It long ran out; it is there
Still lit, still Divine,
   Still ready to lead in spiritual ways;
Which keeps no toll of wrongs;
But stands ready daily
To transform your spirit; this
Light emanating from All Love,
All Forgivenss, All Mercy, say
You are My Child of Light;
Find your mission
Find your home!

 2000 Connie Nelson Ahlberg
All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Beloved Friend

Today I'm honoring the gift of friendship embraced by the hug of health. A best friend got good news today.

We were at the Piper Breast Center at Abbott hospital in Minneapolis. Coffee was served in delicate china, water in glassware suitable for a dining room table. We had braced for the possibly of news we didn't want to hear. But in one of those mysteries of the Universe, today was a good news day!

Suddenly this gray, misty day, devoid of color in mid-March, turned into a beautiful day.
We rejoiced at joggers and dogs walking owners. Runners' ponytails swung back and forth as we watched women 'round the corners of the paved paths at the shores of the lakes. We became impatient with drivers who didn't want to drive 15 miles an hour. What's wrong with you? It's a joyous day! What's your hurry?

When you're nearing the time that you've been advised to laminate your medicare card, life seems a bit up in the air. But when joy comes: you breathe it in and dance!

Here are words in honor of those friends we cherish
--whose walk we share.

I Would Set to Wailing

If anything were to happen to you,
O friend, I couldn't bear it;
And lo, I would set to wailing--
Until you were well!

Connie Nelson Ahlberg - All Rights Reserved

Beloved Friend

My open window in the winter;
My robin in the spring;
My summer aria;
My fall colors;
My restoration in winter's white;

You are my circle;
Each year I season
With you:
A darling:
As indispensable as breath.

Connie Nelson Ahlberg - All Rights Reserved

Dear friend, your good news becomes--my smile of joy.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Shitennoji Nyoirin Kannon - Profoundly Moving Images by Ron Reznick

Shitennoji Nyoirin Kannon

One day I discovered the wondrous website of Ron Reznick.  After that I couldn't stay away. He has exquisite images of nature, shrines, temples, flowers, and places from all over the world. But I fell in love with these Buddhist images--as they both calmed and lifted my heart.

I was captivated by his use of the word rosary--as I equated that word with but one religion--Catholicism, but he used the word to describe part of the symbolism in the image shown on the right.

"The six-armed Shingon representation of Nyoirin Kannon is another form of  Avalokiteshvara," Ron has written on his site. 

An image of Avalokiteshvara is shown below. (For information on Avalokiteshvara, see Wikipedia with description and image by Jean-Pierre Dalbera;--his image is shown below. She Who Hears the Cries of the World are words that surely fit the visual.)

Ron's images of Shitennoji Nyoirin Kannon, "Shown Sitting on a lotus flower, the six arms each represent one of the Karmic realms, and a vow to save beings in the six realms of rebirth:

The right hand holding the rosary represents the vow to save all beings in the animal realm; the right hand holding the wish-fulfilling jewel represent the vow to save begins in the realm of the hungry ghosts; the right hand touching the cheek represent the vow to save beings in hell; the left hand touching the lotus throne represent the vow to save beings in the realm of demons; the left hand holding a lotus flower represent the vow to save beings in the human realm; and lastly the left hand reaching back to touch the Dharma Wheel represent the vow to save beings in the Deva realm."

I'd like to offer blessings in honor of all Buddhists at the Palyul Monastic Association in Baltimore and also all members of Clouds in Water Zen Center in Saint Paul, MN. There are participants at Clouds in Water this weekend engaged in Embracing the Present Moment with No Escape - A 12-Step & Buddhism Retreat lead by Byakuren Judith Ragir.  

For those participating in the 12-Step and Buddhism retreat, I humbly offer a prayer I wrote about surrender (and one
I've used in prayer): The Prayer of the Confederate Soldier.

The Prayer of the Confederate Soldier

Lord, I surrender,
My white flag a symbol
Of my powerlessness
Over so much:
My addictions and cravings,
My sins and ailings,
That repeat like
A played-out battle of defeat;
I surrender all pretense,
Facade, my dance before my God,
And I all white like the moon
Luminous in the night;
Lay bare my past,
Feeling acceptance and peace
At last...this soldier
That marches just for Thee.

Connie Nelson Ahlberg / All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Music Can Save A Life

"Music Can Save A Life," José Antonio Abreu

What a legacy: lasting gifts for Venezuela and the world. Beyond words to notes,
to music and the celebration of the human spirit.

The classical music reporter Daniel J. Wakin discusses the Venezuelan music education program founded by José Antonio Abreu.

Prayer of the Musician

You are the Divine Musician
You write the songs
I, your humble musician,
Simply play along with
all of life's compositions
Lifting, gifting 'til
All the world sings.

(This seems to be a variation on
another poem I wrote. Today my
memory is a bit - off.)

Connie Nelson Ahlberg - All Rights Reserved.

Womb Mates

Womb Mates

God genuflects
When He creates twins,
Or multitudes of His plan;
Enabling each
To live in hallowed holiness;
Nothing can ever separate
Souls in Grace who grew
Together--and so knew each other;
No sorrow can long break their bond:
For they are skin and bone
Sharing One Heart.

1999 Connie Nelson Ahlberg
All Rights Reserved

I welcome feedback on my prose.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I Embrace All the Grace

In honor of luminous people in my live, I offer these words today.

You are a walk toward the sun;
A moment of illumination;
And I embrace all the Grace
That brought you near.

Connie Nelson Ahlberg - All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Gratitude for the Good

Gratitude for the Good

My ninety seven year-old dad reminded me yesterday that my grandfather, Carl F. Nelson, was born March 2 on Park Point in Duluth, MN. How amazing to be so cognizant at that advanced age to remember your father's birthday!

I've heard many times that my grandfather went to school with Native Americans. Back then they were called Indians.

My grandfather now rests in the Lutsen, Minnesota cemetery where I've recently learned of the existence of a common grave of the Ojibwe tribe. I believe those diligently at work in making the cemetery a beautiful, and well-kept final home, are honoring this holy ground. Alta McQuatters, an officer on the cemetery committee, has thanked Scott Harrison, the Nelson family (who have donated the land), and early native Ojibwe who helped make the first cemetery and the new cemetery possible.

“These words will be bronzed and placed on a rock in the cemetery,” said McQuatters. Alta, one of the is a descendants of the earliest Native Americans on the North Shore, has been at work to make this happen. Honoring. It is what we are here to do. Honoring ourselves, honoring each other. So many have  have been dedicated to lifting this home amidst the evergreens. (Others who spent countless hours seeding grass, increasing the size and scope of the cemetery, planting flowers, landscaping, and preparing for future residents are George "Bub" Nelson, Richard C. Nelson, and Virginia Storlie.)

Prayer of the Surrendering Warrior
Honoring the Native American Spirit

Only the warriors
Who have tasted defeat
Dance with the greatest joy
Under the rainbow;
This you have taught me,
Pure Spirit of the Skies;

Only those who have hunted
Many days with silent bows
Rejoice by the cooking fires;

Only those who have traveled far,
Far to find the purest stream
Laugh, laugh when they can drink
Water from its cup;

       So much waits for the seasoned warrior;
         As the moon has its phases before it is full.

           Written in 1997 by Connie Nelson Ahlberg - All Rights Reserved.

I want to also honor Greg Larsen, incomparable musician and spiritual warrior, as he completes his Earthly walk. Prayers to the Larsen family in the spirit of the prayer above, which I hope,--feels like an embrace by the Great Spirit over us all.

Prayers of restoration and strength to the family of Mike Johnson (@Jampal_Sangye) in Henryville, Indiana, and to the entire community rocked by devastation from a tornado. May all be provided for in both spiritual and physical needs.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Prayer of One More Thing

Any beginning is a continuation. Today I want to honor a petite, dear woman named Joan Myers. Joan was scheduled for brain surgery; tests showed she had an aneurysm. I was worried about her. Thus I wrote "The Prayer of One More Thing." Joan, already a breast cancer survivor, made it through her operation. A great day! Here is the poem I wrote in honor of my dear friend.

(But this is also for a dear man in hospice with his wife at his side.)

The Prayer of One More Thing

Truly, have I not endured everything?
O Infinite One, here's one more thing!
Take me to Thy Wisdom Tree where
Outstretched limbs shall shelter me!
I know Thou art the Holy One;
Yet, just last week,
I assumed I was done;
Caress me as I cling
To my swaying tree,
And though,
Unknowing what the future brings,
I shall sit with Wisdom on Thy bark
And sing.
(Or take from me--This one last thing.)
Connie Nelson Ahlberg  - All Rights Reserved.
This blog is in honor of those we love. This blog is in honor--of you.