Today, I want to lift up a local organization worthy of note: H.O.M.E. Inc, located in Orland, Maine. From their website:
"H.O.M.E., Inc. was founded in 1970 by Sr. Lucy Poulin (pictured below with a group of young volunteers) and other community members. In the beginning, handcraft studios were created as a means for low-income families in rural Hancock County to earn extra income through hard Maine winters. Community members produced items from their homes to sell at the Craft Store which is located on H.O.M.E.’s 23-acre site in Orland and that program continues on today. Now, more than 50 years later, needs of local citizens have led to programs of service tailored to respond in positive and effective outcomes, i.e. shelters for those experiencing homelessness, affordable daycare, organic gardens, a food pantry and soup kitchen, plus programs to support a house construction and repair effort that has built 53 homes for low-income families."
H.O.M.E. offers a number of services, including their newly re-done hand-craft store! I was recently in the store and found many lovely items - maybe you'd like to do this year's holiday shopping there, and in so doing, you make not only your own and loved one's holidays brighter, but also contribute to the holiday cheer for the artisans and their families, who themselves have experienced hardship. The shop is bright and cheery, the crafts well made, and the staff welcoming!
I highly recommend a visit and exploration of this wonderful place that serves the community in so many ways.
Want To Volunteer?
More You Can Do
If you yourself feel called to contribute to the work H.O.M.E. is doing, here is a list of items frequently used and needed in their programs:
PLEASE VISIT H.O.M.E.'s WEBSITE for more info and ways you can assist:
Monotheism, Polytheism, Pantheism, Animism, Agnosticism, Atheism . . .
What are the differences? Which is yours?
Curious to learn more, explore your own belief systems or understand someone else's? Take a moment to look at a brief description of each of these. The definitions below are generalized - people adhering to any of the systems listed will have individualized experience and understanding of them; so, bearing that in mind, here you go with some very basic statements:
Monotheism - This word comes from a mix of the Greek “monos” (one, alone, single) and “Theo-“ (God). Monotheists believe in and worship one God. Examples of Monotheistic religions are: Islam, Judaism and Christianity.
Polytheism - Again, from the Greek, “poly” (many) and “Theo-“ (God). Polytheists believe in and worship more than one god.
Examples of Polytheistic religions: Mahayana Buddhism, Shintoism, Candomble, Taoism, Confusionism, Hinduism, Wicca and Modern Paganism.
Pantheism - “Pan” (all) and “Theo-“ (God) give us All-God. Pantheists may experience God-in-all-things and/or all-things-in-God. Or, they may embrace their Pantheism by honoring or even believing in and honoring all Gods. Some people claiming Pantheism may simply have a tolerance for all religions, beliefs, and Gods. Many religions - and some non-religious spiritualities - embrace Pantheism, such as some branches of Buddhism, Taoism, Paganism and ecologists, and even some Christians.
Animism - The prefix “anima” comes from Latin and means “spirit” or “soul”. Animists believe that the world is alive with soul/spirit; that all things (not just people) have or are vital beings with true soul or spirit, and as such, can and should be interacted with respectfully. In Animism, plants, rocks, rivers, stars and spoons are on some level conscious and a part of the interconnected, interdependent web of life. Animistic religions include Shinto, Hinduism, Paganism/Neopaganism, Shamanistic or Earth-based religions and many (if not most) Indigenous spiritualities.
Agnosticism - The prefix “A-“ (meaning “without”) plus “Gnosticism” (Gnostic meaning knowledge) gives us Agnosticism, the belief that we cannot know whether God and/or the supernatural world exists or does not exist. Agnostics may not believe in any theism or may embrace a religion theoretically but interact with it knowing it may not have basis in truth. An Agnostic neither believes nor disbelieves in God.
Atheism - The prefix “A-“ (meaning “without”) plus -theism (God), means, of course, without God. Atheists do not believe in God or supernatural presence.
Many people find considering the beliefs of others difficult. Yet the ability to explore and understand others is central to generating a community of harmony among our fellow humans.
Interesting questions to ask yourself might be:
What belief system was I raised with?
Was religion or spirituality offered to me or placed upon me (that is, was I introduced to - or was I indoctrinated with a religious belief)?
Do I practice the religion of my childhood today?
Do I still believe in the religion of my childhood? (If not, why not? If so, why?)
Does what I believe bring me peace, passion or other positive experience or attitude?
Do I feel that my religious or spiritual beliefs make me a better person?
Do my beliefs still feel relevant or supportive to me?
Do I have judgements of other people’s religion?
Do I think that if I had been raised within a different belief system that I would be a different person at my core?
Does my religion/spirituality bring me peace?
Do I feel comfortable imagining what it might be like to have a different belief system?
Can I love people of different belief systems?
Which system (“ism) listed above is most difficult for me to imagine embracing?
What might I be like if that system were the one I was raised with?
What is my greatest fear about my own beliefs?
Might there be there things about my belief system or religion that could be harmful to me or other people?
What does my belief system or religion offer me that is helpful or healing?
How does thinking about other people’s beliefs make me feel? (Anxious? Angry? Fearful? Surprised? Curious? Interested? Etc. . .)
As an Interfaith Minister, chaplain/spiritual advisor working in hospice and grief support, I, Maya, am tasked with being present and fully engaged in many religions and styles of belief. I, personally, feel very, very honored to be let in to people’s deepest heart, wisest mind, softest vulnerabilities and the great strengths that every person’s religion or belief system offers them. I have found that willingness to go with someone to the core or essence of their deepest truths brings those truths alive; it is possible to gain rich understanding on a visceral level when we embrace the inherent worth and dignity of others.
Whatever your heart holds true, spiritually, religiously, scientifically, or otherwise, I celebrate your peace, joy and delight in the amazing journey of being human!
With Much Love,
Have you ever wondered about the meaning behind the three positions of Muslim prayer?
In the youtube video "Steps of Muslim prayer explained" by David Middlecamp,
Spiritual Leader (Imam) Mas'ab Abdalla explains it with grace and simplicity.
1. Hands are put up to symbolize putting the world behind, so as to focus fully on God. Imam Abdalla shares "it's hard, but it's a practice we do five times a day". "This first step is standing up, with the mind above the heart; the first step on the journey for a seeker of truth - it is all intellectual; learning the steps of purifying onesself, and how to pray. . ."
2. The second step is done in the bowing state. The mind and heart are now on a level - they are even with one another. Imam Abdalla tells us that this represents the second step of the seeker - and that in this pose the teaching is transferred from solely intellectual in the mind to an experience of the heart.
3. Prostration. In the third and final stage of the seeker, the mind is placed below the heart; it represents the submission of heart to God. In this stage, says Abdalla, "We trust in God. We are loving God whether times are tough or times are prosperous."
To see the video of this simple and beautiful explanation offered by Imam Abdalla,
please CLICK HERE (or the link above) to watch.
If you did your own prayer five times every day, what do you think might unfold?
If this information is new to you, thank you for opening your mind and heart to another's way of praying; understanding builds compassion, compassion builds community, community makes our world a better place for everyone.
Image above is from www.learnreligions.com
Today I want to share a story that has been going around on social media; it is a letter written by pop star Fiona Apple, about her choice to cancel her South American concert tour. May we all have the respect for our own hearts, loved ones and our personal process that Ms. Apple takes for herself in this lovely example of true self care and care for a being who has been her companion for over a decade. Here is her letter:
“It's 6pm on Friday, and I'm writing to a few thousand friends I have not met yet. I'm writing to ask them to change our plans and meet a little while later.
Here's the thing.
I have a dog, Janet, and she's been ill for about 2 years now, as a tumor has been idling in her chest, growing ever so slowly. She's almost 14 years old now. I got her when she was 4 months old. I was 21 then — an ad0-ult, officially — and she was my kid.
She is a pitbull, and was found in Echo Park, with a rope around her neck, and bites all over her ears and face.
She was the one the dogfighters use to puff up the confidence of the contenders.
She's almost 14 and I've never seen her start a fight, or bite, or even growl, so I can understand why they chose her for that awful role. She's a pacifist.
Janet has been the most consistent relationship of my adult life, and that is just a fact. We've lived in numerous houses, and joined a few makeshift families, but it's always really been just the two of us.
She slept in bed with me, her head on the pillow, and she accepted my hysterical, tearful face into her chest, with her paws around me, every time I was heartbroken, or spirit-broken, or just lost, and as years went by, she let me take the role of her child, as I fell asleep, with her chin resting above my head.
She was under the piano when I wrote songs, barked any time I tried to record anything, and she was in the studio with me, all the time we recorded the last album.
The last time I came back from tour, she was spry as ever, and she's used to me being gone for a few weeks, every 6 or 7 years.
She has Addison's Disease, which makes it more dangerous for her to travel, since she needs regular injections of Cortisol, because she reacts to stress and excitement without the physiological tools which keep most of us from literally panicking to death.
Despite all this, she's effortlessly joyful & playful, and only stopped acting like a puppy about 3 years ago. She is my best friend, and my mother, and my daughter, my benefactor, and she's the one who taught me what love is.
I can't come to South America. Not now. When I got back from the last leg of the US tour, there was a big, big difference.
She doesn't even want to go for walks anymore.
I know that she's not sad about aging or dying.
Animals have a survival instinct, but a sense of mortality and vanity, they do not. That's why they are so much more present than people.
But I know she is coming close to the time where she will stop being a dog, and start instead to be part of everything. She'll be in the wind, and in the soil, and the snow, and in me, wherever I go.
I just can't leave her now, please understand. If I go away again, I'm afraid she'll die and I won't have the honor of singing her to sleep, of escorting her out.
Sometimes it takes me 20 minutes just to decide what socks to wear to bed.
But this decision is instant.
These are the choices we make, which define us. I will not be the woman who puts her career ahead of love & friendship.
I am the woman who stays home, baking Tilapia for my dearest, oldest friend. And helps her be comfortable and comforted and safe and important.
I need to do my damnedest, to be there for that.
Because it will be the most beautiful, the most intense, the most enriching experience of life I've ever known.
When she dies.
So I am staying home, and I am listening to her snore and wheeze, and I am revelling in the swampiest, most awful breath that ever emanated from an angel. And I'm asking for your blessing.
I'll be seeing you.
Please visit www.fionaapplestore.com
Or click the image above to support this artist and all around kind human.
Rev. Maya Massar