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Spirituality and Worship

Julia Moore to Present The Work of Byron Katie

Easton—Certified Facilitator Julia Moore will present a weekend workshop on The Work of Byron Katie at Evergreen Cove on September 24-26, 2010. The Work is a method for identifying, questioning and releasing thoughts that cause fear and suffering. The method was developed by Byron Kate and presented in her books, “Loving What Is” and “A Thousand Names for Joy.” The Work has been featured on Oprah’s television show as well as in her Soul Series webcasts.

Moore is a Certified Facilitator of The Work and teaches it through workshops, teleclasses, and in private consultations. The weekend workshop “Loving What Is: The Work of Byron Katie” meets on Friday from 7:00 to 9:00 pm, Saturday from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm and Sunday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. Tuition is $210 and advance registration is required. For more information, including sliding scale tuition and financial aid options, or to register, call Evergreen Cove at (410) 819-3395 or visit www.evergreencove.org.

The mission of Evergreen Cove is to be a catalyst for growth and wellness by offering innovative programs, services and resources. The center is located on the Tred Avon waterfront next to Londonderry Retirement Community just off the Easton by-pass. For more information, call 410-819-3395 or visit www.evergreencove.org.

 

Cutline: Certified Facilitator Julia Moore will offer a weekend workshop on The Work of Byron Katie at Evergreen Cove September 24-16, 2010. (Julia Moore with LWI (2).jpg)

 

The Spirituality of Toy Story

By Dwayne Eutsey

(Adapted from a lay sermon I gave at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Easton on July 25, 2010).

About 10 years ago, when my wife and I were the parents of newborn twins and a two-year-old son, I found a philosophical/spiritual resource that helped me cope with the day-to-day grind of new-parent survival by reminding me of a few profound and enduring spiritual truths.

It wasn’t the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, or any other religious text, because with commuting every day to a full-time job, and having three kids in diapers, who had time for reading, let alone scriptural interpretation?

It wasn’t sitting meditation, because when people experiencing extreme sleep deprivation sit down and shut their eyes for a moment, the next sound you’ll hear from them won’t be “oooommmmm” but “zzzzzzzzzz”.   

This resource didn’t involve heavy theological discourses, dogmas, doctrines, or hard-to-understand references to ancient times and places; instead, it offered its spiritual lessons in an engaging, colorfully animated format with lively, funny dialogue, and was set within the simple context of a child’s bedroom.

I mean, of course, the highly popular Toy Story series. For anyone who has been secluded in a child-free cave for the past 15 years and doesn’t know what I’m talking about: the three Toy Story movies follow the adventures of a group of toys that belong to a boy named Andy. The toys, who are led by an amiable cowboy named Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) and an astronaut action figure named Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen), can only come to life when human beings aren’t around.

Dandelion Faith

By Dwayne Eutsey

I suppose like many people with yards to care for, I’m not a huge fan of dandelions.

Especially for anyone with an idealized vision of having a plush and perfectly manicured lawn, these pesky weeds can be something of a nuisance.

As anyone who has seen my yard can tell you, I’m obviously not obsessed with achieving the perfect lawn. However, I am compelled to drag out the mower whenever I see the grass becoming shaggy with numerous white puffballs and little yellow sunbursts dotting the green.

While I may not like all the dandelions I see blotting the yard, I can’t help but marvel at their quiet, undaunted tenacity. No sooner have I mowed them down than new stems are already sprouting defiantly from the ground—a reminder that, to paraphrase Shakespeare, there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in my yard care philosophy.

“Exciting the Laughter of God’s Creatures”—Remembering Mark Twain’s Spirituality

By Dwayne Eutsey

Although Wednesday marks the 100th anniversary of Samuel Clemens’s death, any reports of his alter ego Mark Twain’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.

In fact, Twain remains as well-known today as he was a century ago.

In January, Easton Middle School performed a popular musical adaptation of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer that had many of us humming sunny tunes about life on the Mississippi while shoveling snow here on the Eastern Shore. A couple years ago, Twain’s brooding image adorned the cover of Time magazine beside the somewhat ominous headline, “The Dangerous Mind of Mark Twain.”

That dichotomy between the whimsical and cantankerous aspects of Twain’s legacy captures well how we’ve come to understand his enduring iconic presence in our culture. As with most icons, however, there are usually many complex ambiguities coursing like murky river currents beneath the familiar façade we think we know.

Twain’s attitudes on race, for example, remain a matter of debate and have even led some to call for banning Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from schools because of its alleged racism. In terms of his religious beliefs, many people also assume Twain was an embittered atheist who, especially late in life, took devilish delight in mocking God and ridiculing Christianity.

The Spiritual Path of Karate

By Dwayne Eutsey

If you lived on the Shore during the ‘70s, you probably recall some of the hokey TV commercials that used to air on DC stations like Channel 20 or Channel 5. One that I loved showed Jhoon Rhee, a Grand Master in tae kwan do, performing amazing martial arts feats in slow motion while his cheesy musical jingo encouraged us to “Call USA-1000, Jhoon Rhee means might for right.”

At the end a little Asian girl would confidently say, “Nobody bothers me,” followed by an even younger Asian boy who would proclaim, “Nobody bodders me, either” before giving us a wink.

I remember wanting so badly to call USA-1000 so that I could learn to leap in the air and kick without wearing a shirt like Jhoon Rhee did. The martial arts, after all, were very cool at the time. They seemed to be everywhere in pop culture. There was the popular weekly TV show “Kung Fu,” Bruce Lee flicks were playing in movie theaters, and Top 40 radio informed us that “Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting” and that those cats were fast as lightning.

Martial arts were even reflected in our toys. Topping the Christmas list of every boy I knew in elementary school was the GI Joe action figure with kung-fu grip.

Unfortunately for me, however, Jhoon Rhee taught his ancient Eastern discipline in the far-away and exotic land of Arlington, Virginia and, as far as I knew, there were no local martial arts schools ( “dojos”) on the Shore at the time.

A Buddhist Wizard of Oz

By Dwayne Eutsey

Suppose I were to give you the following clues and asked you to name the story they describe:

  • A young and somewhat naïve individual follows a path on a strange journey to a colorful place where special information they need can be found.
  • At separate points along the way, the young person encounters and befriends three peculiar characters (one of them a talking animal) who each agrees to join the person on their journey to the colorful place.
  • When the four characters arrive at their ultimate destination, the young person discovers that the information they thought they were seeking wasn’t really what they were expecting to find.

You’d be correct if you said these clues resemble the basic plot of The Wizard of Oz, but that’s not the story I have in mind. The one I’m thinking of is Journey to the West, a classic folk novel from China.

Written in the 1590s, Journey to the West follows the legendary quest (based loosely on an actual journey) of Tripitaka, a young Buddhist monk from China who makes a long and difficult trip to retrieve sacred Buddhist scriptures from India. Along the way, he meets the magical Monkey King (who is as recognizable in Chinese culture as Mickey Mouse is in ours); the loutish Pigsy; and the strong and ever-patient Sandy.

Lent: A Time for Deepening Our Lives as the Days Grow Longer

By Dwayne Eutsey

I had every intention of writing a column last week about Lent in time for it to be published here on Ash Wednesday, the day this traditional Christian observance begins.

Ironically, though, I wasn’t able to write the column because I found myself too busy juggling work deadlines, family issues, and getting sucked into the distracting time-drains on TV and the Internet.

I say ironically because the fact that I couldn’t write something about Lent because my life was too hectic and unfocused is why this time of introspection is so important for everyone, regardless of your spiritual world view.

Maybe it’s because the winter doldrums have frozen me in a monotonous combination of cold weather, cabin fever, and shoveling endless snow, but I find myself functioning on automatic pilot a lot lately…just dully going through the motions.

I’m ready to shake off the ice and sing a lively version of “Here Comes the Sun.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZtQh5EIgWQ

Apparently, that’s not far from the original meaning of “Lent.” According to the BBC, the word is derived from the old English word for “lengthen” and refers to how the days begin to lengthen during this time of year as spring approaches. The site also defines the religious Lenten observance as:

Remembering Black History on the Shore

By Dwayne Eutsey

With all the snow we’ve had to dig out from lately, it’s easy to forget that February is Black History Month. http://www.history.com/content/blackhistory

This observance originally began as Negro History Week in 1926 when historian Carter G. Woodson, the largely self-educated son of former slaves who went on to receive a PhD from Harvard, wanted to establish a time for remembering and celebrating the significant contributions African Americans have made to our national history.

Woodson initially set this observance during the second week in February because two major figures in African American history were born during that week: Frederick Douglass, the former slave and outspoken abolitionist who escaped from Talbot County, was born on February 14; Abraham Lincoln, the president who signed the Emancipation Proclamation ending chattel slavery in the United States, was born February 12.

The week became a month-long observance in 1976 and is also known as African American Heritage Month. In addition to Frederick Douglass, the Eastern Shore has made a few other noteworthy contributions to that heritage.

There is Harriet Tubman, of course. Growing up in Dorchester County back in the ‘70s, I remember learning a lot about how she bravely helped hundreds of slaves escape from the Shore through the Underground Railroad. http://www.midshorelife.com/content/harriet-tubman%E2%80%99s-legacy-lives

However, one piece of history I didn’t learn much about when I was school kid on the Shore was the important role Cambridge played in the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Maybe that history was too recent and too raw for teachers to make sense of and to teach at the time, but I don’t remember learning anything about it in school. I did overhear, occasionally, vague references adults made about that time, and I even remember when I was almost 4 years old that my grandfather made me scrunch down in the backseat of his car as he drove me and my mom through a riot-torn section of Cambridge.

Howard Zinn’s Undying Faith in Democracy

By Dwayne Eutsey

Someone I admired very much, activist historian Howard Zinn, died recently at age 87.

Howard ZinnYou may know Zinn from a book he wrote in 1980 called A People’s History of the United States. With over 1 million copies sold since its publication, this landmark (and controversial) volume retells American history from the point of view of “common people” often not included in our official historical narrative—Native Americans, slaves, workers, the poor, women, pacifists, anarchists, unionizers.

Last month, the History Channel broadcast “The People Speak”, a documentary co-produced, incidentally, by Easton native Chris Moore and his friend, actor Matt Damon. With Zinn narrating, the film featured the likes of Morgan Freeman, Marisa Tormei, and Bruce Springsteen reading and singing words from the original letters, songs, diaries, and speeches that Zinn used to write A People’s History and other works. (http://www.history.com/content/people-speak)

Coming from a working-class background myself, I am forever in debt to Zinn for showing me how this often marginalized group is actually an integral strand among many other strands that together make up our national history. His inclusive view of American identity is true to our country’s unofficial motto, E pluribus unum: “Out of many, one.”

A Serious Man Ponders "Why Me?"

By Dwayne Eutsey

Like many people, I’ve been dismayed by the devastating earthquake in Haiti recently.

The rising death toll (possibly in the hundreds of thousands), the heart-wrenching suffering, the inability to get medical aid and food supplies to the homeless survivors in a fast and effective way…It’s all been depressing, frustrating, and overwhelming.

As overpowering as the news coverage of this disaster can be, though, unless you know someone affected by the suffering there, it’s easy enough in our media-driven culture to tune out the bad news and tune into something more pleasant.

It’s like Rev. Jim, a character on the classic ‘70s sitcom Taxi, once wryly observed, “You know the really great thing about television? If something important happens anywhere in the world, night or day…you can always change the channel.” Or to update it for our times: surf the web, pop in a DVD, etc.

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