For a Reason or a Season

Do you remember the song “Turn, Turn, Turn” by the Byrds ?
The lyrics are taken almost verbatim from the book of Ecclesiastes, as found in the King James Version of the Bible – though the sequence of the words was rearranged for the song. Ecclesiastes is traditionally ascribed to King Solomon.

Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 verses 1-8
New International Version
________________________________________
1There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
2a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
6a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
The Biblical text proposes there being a time and place for all things: laughter and sorrow, healing and killing, war and peace, and so on. The lines are open to many interpretations, but as a song they are commonly performed as a plea for world peace, with an emphasis on the closing line: “a time for peace, I swear it’s not too late.” This line and the title phrase “Turn! Turn! Turn!” are the only parts of the lyric written by Pete Seeger himself. Way back in 1959, Seeger put the lyrics to music. He recorded it in 1962 but the song did not become an International hit until it was recorded by the Byrds in 1965. The song was later featured in the 1994 film Forest Gump.
So even though it was put to music in 1959, and recorded by the Byrds in 1965, the message and request for world peace is still needed today in the year 2010.
The song is also notable for being one of a few instances in popular music in which a large portion of scripture is set to music.
Ok so after explaining all of that what do we really get from the verses?
Does it mean that there is a reason for everything that happens in our lives the good and the bad – and that everything happens when it is time for it to happen?
Well yes, there is a time to plant and a time harvest, a time to laugh and a time to cry, a time to keep some things in our lives and a time to discard others, a time to be born and a time to die. We all understand those times in our lives.
So does that mean that we should just sit back and let everything happen – if that is the way it is meant to be? Are we just puppets to be led from point A to point to B – with no choices and no say in the matter?
No! I don’t believe that – but I do believe that things do happen in their time and for a reason. Now who or what determines that time and reason is the real question.
Some people believe that God controls our lives. That He punishes us and rewards us here on earth. That He controls what happens to us to teach us lessons. While others may argue that everything is happenstance, chance, accident, coincidence or serendipity. And still others may call it by names like fate, destiny, karma, luck, fortune or kismet. And others may argue that if God gave us free will, why would He then control what happens to us? Why would he create us just to be puppets under his control?
If you believe in reincarnation, you might argue that we live many different lives to accomplish many different things, that we have to experience all things on this earth – good and bad. Well, that might shed some light on why such terrible things happen – even to good people.
Yet, invariably, when something so horrible and terrible happens that we can’t understand the meaning of it – why do people often cry out “Why did God let this happen?” –or – “Why did God do this to me?”
But – Did God let it happen?
Yes, terrible acts of nature are called Acts of God – even by insurance companies. But are they really acts of God? What about in our everyday lives?
Say in love for example: Have you ever wondered why a certain relationship didn’t work out, especially when everything seemed so perfect. You got along well. He or she came into your life just when you really needed someone. And you seemed to be so happy together…maybe for a short time or for years. You just can’t imagine ever being apart…but …for a reason unknown to you – the relationship ends.
Maybe you just seem to drift apart or maybe it ends badly with one of you ending the relationship abruptly. Or maybe the other person met someone else…
Do you think that maybe you were put in that person’s life to keep him or her in that place at that time – so they would be there to eventually meet that other someone else? There are so many variables in our lives if we really sit down and think about cause and effect. Maybe you were keeping each other company for that certain amount of time to bring each of you to the next step in your lives.
But it hurts, if you are the one who has been left behind, your head reels, you are filled with unanswered questions. You are filled with pain – yet you feel hollow and empty at the same time. You spend days and nights going over every single thing that may have led to the breakup and you question yourself, “What did I do wrong? What is wrong with me? Why did he or she leave me? I felt we were so right for each other – what went wrong?”
Well maybe, just maybe… you didn’t do anything wrong. Maybe it was just the season and the time for the relationship to end. The breakup may have happened to bring you to a certain place in your life that only that particular person could bring you to. Maybe you had to experience life in that way with only that person but – only for a time – just for a time, just in its time and season and for a reason.
What happened later that might not have happened if that particular person had not come into your life at that particular time?
If you had a relationship like that – one that had seemed so perfect – yet ended… After a period of time, did you look back and see the reason and say “Ohhhhhh so that is why he or she came into my life…”
Maybe you were planning to move away and then you met this person and suddenly you didn’t want to move and you stayed. Maybe that person came into your life at that particular time to keep you from moving… or changing jobs… or taking a trip… or getting together with someone else who may have taken you down a whole different path in life.
I know that when something like that happens you can’t look back with a clinical eye and analyze the situation right away – it hurts too much. But you do have to get on with your life. Give yourself time to heal. And it may be years before you can look back and see how that relationship changed the course of your life and – if you wait long enough to see it – the change is usually for the better.
The same thing can be said of friendships. Sometimes people come into our lives for a very brief moment in time. They are there just when we need someone for a specific reason. And there they are at that right time and then gone… with no animosity – just time to get on to other things, other places, other people.
So maybe now you are saying, “Oh that’s just a coincidence!” Things like that happen all the time. It’s just coincidence, that I missed the bus and while waiting for the next bus to come along I met the love of my life!
Or like what happened to my sister recently. She was going to a weekend retreat and at the airport she was kept so long in line while they went through all of her luggage, and each and every cosmetic item and bottle of lotion that she actually missed her flight. At first she was furious, then being a spiritual person, she calmed herself and handled the situation. As she waited to board the next plane she met another traveler going to the same retreat and they struck up a wonderful conversation. In fact that person was then able to take on one of her carryon bags when she learned that she was over the limit.
Oh maybe it seems to be just a small thing – but how fortunate. Coincidence? Chance? Luck? Fate? Or – a time and reason? People just seem to pop in and out of our lives when we need them.
Are you starting to get it now? What about that job you interviewed for and you were so disappointed when you didn’t get it? But… The next week or two later you interviewed for a better job – and got it!
Some people believe that we, as spirit, plan our lives so that we can live and experience many things soul needs to learn. And that we have shared other lives with many of the same people only in different relationships. Sometimes those people come into our life just to be there for one specific reason and then they go on with their own life, while others opt to live closely in our life as a brother or sister, mother or father, husband or wife or son or daughter or as a friend.
Just think of all the relationships we experience in our life. What about that stranger on the street who when passing gives you a beautiful smile that just lifts your day? Accident? Coincidence? Or someone who came into your life just for that brief moment to make you feel good when you needed it?
I like this idea – it just makes sense to me. It explains why the wonderful happen in our lives and, unfortunately, why the awful things happen, too.
Some things happen that seem so terrible that you feel you will never get over it – that nothing good could ever come of it. In my life, I can honestly say that I have had several times when I thought that. Things that were so devastating at the time that I thought I could never heal from it. Yet now, in spite of all the pain, the tears and the anguish – I can actually look back and see the good that came out of the devastating situation. Maybe you just have to live long enough to be able to look back.
The thing is when things seem so black and hopeless, struggle through it. Know that you are not alone. God is with you offering you comfort. There really is a silver lining around that big ole storm cloud – you just have to wait a little bit before you can see it – and say a prayer to the Creator for courage, guidance, strength and love to see you through. Many Blessings…

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Prayers of Thanksgiving

I wish each and every one of you the most wonderful Thanksgiving. Many blessings to you all…
If you want to enrich your Thanksgiving dinner by adding a different kind of blessing, something a little bit out of the ordinary or usual for your family -browse through the following prayers and sayings, you might find one that will add that extra touch of beauty to your day…

There is an Estonian proverb that says…” Who does not thank for little – will not thank for much.”

And In the bible- Galatians 6:9 Do not get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.

Here is a Thanksgiving prayer by Harry Jewel
We Give Thanks –
Our Father in Heaven,
We give thanks for the pleasure
Of gathering together for this occasion.
We give thanks for this food
Prepared by loving hands.
We give thanks for life,
The freedom to enjoy it all
And all other blessings.
As we partake of this food,
We pray for health and strength
To carry on and try to live as You would have us.
This we ask in the name of Christ,
Our Heavenly Father.

And even those who didn’t celebrate a traditional Thanksgiving, offered prayers of thanks such as this…
Aztec Prayer
Lord most giving and resourceful,
I implore you;
make it your will
that this people enjoy
the goods and riches you naturally give,
that naturally issue from you,
that are pleasing and savory,
that delight and comfort,
though lasting but briefly,
passing away as if in a dream.
And here is an
… Iroquois Prayer
We return thanks to our mother, the earth, which sustains us. We return thanks to the rivers and streams, which supply us with water. We return thanks to all herbs, which furnish medicines for the cure of our diseases. We return thanks to the corn, and to her sisters, the beans and squash, which give us life. We return thanks to the bushes and trees, which provide us with fruit. We return thanks to the wind, which, moving the air, has banished diseases. We return thanks to the moon and the stars, which have given us their light when the sun was gone. We return thanks to our grandfather He-no, .., who has given to us his rain. We return thanks to the sun, that he has looked upon the earth with a beneficent eye. Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit, in whom is embodied all goodness, and who directs all things for the good of his children.

How about we lighten this up a bit with the following thoughts about Thanksgiving:

When turkey’s on the table laid,
And good things I may scan,
I’m thankful that I wasn’t made
A vegetarian.
That was by Edgar A. Guest

And how about this little ditty by- Irving Berlin
Got no check books, got no banks. Still I’d like to express my thanks – I got the sun in the mornin’ and the moon at night.

And this according to Erma Bombeck
“What we’re really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving?”

Or this ritual chant:
We give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.

Thanksgiving for the Earth’s Beauty
We give you thanks, most gracious God,
for the beauty of earth and sky and sea;
for the richness of mountains, plains, and rivers;
for the songs of birds and the loveliness of flowers.
We praise you for these good gifts,
and pray that we may safeguard them for our posterity.
Grant that we may continue to grow
in our grateful enjoyment of your abundant creation,
to the honor and glory of your Name, now and for ever. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer/Book of Divine Worship

Now here are some real words of wisdom by Irv Kupcinet…”An optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving Day.”

Thanksgiving 8000 calorie poem
May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
and your pies take the prize,
and may your Thanksgiving dinner
stay off your thighs!
-Unknown

I have often heard this next one paraphrased – but until I was researching for this program – I never knew where this actually came from – I’m sure you will also recognize it…
“Once, when my feet were bare, and I had not the means of obtaining shoes I came to the chief of Kufah in a state of much dejection, and saw there a man who had no feet. I returned thanks to God and acknowledged his mercies, and endured my want of shoes with patience.”
This was written by Abū-Muḥammad Muṣliḥ al-Dīn bin Abdallāh Shīrāzī (1184 – 1283/1291?), better known by his pen-name as Saʿdī The Gulistan a Persian Poet from the medieval period.

Now according to–WT Purkiser “Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our Thanksgiving.”

And then there are these words from Basil Carpenter…”Thank God every day when you get up that you have something to do that day which must be done whether you like it or not. Being forced to work and forced to do your best will breed in you temperance and self-control, diligence and strength of will, cheerfulness and content, and a hundred virtues which the idle will never know.”

How about some more words of wisdom from our friend–Erma Bombeck
“Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence.”
I sure do miss her, I just loved her columns.

Or how about this quote “My mother is such a lousy cook that Thanksgiving at her house is a time of sorrow.”
That is from–Rita Rudner

Now here is a beautiful Native American Prayer…
Native American
Creator, Earth Mother,
we thank you for our lives and
this beautiful day. Thank You for the bright sun
and the rain we received last night.
Thank You for this circle of friends
and the opportunity to be together.
We want to thank You especially at this time
for the giveaway of their lives made by the
chickens, beets, carrots, grains and lettuce.
We thank them for giving of their lives
so we may continue our lives through this
great blessing. Please help us honor them
through how we live our lives.

So beautifully said by our Native American brothers and sisters who have always lived with and of the land…

Here is a lovely Buddhist prayer well actually it is more like an entire ceremony to be celebrated during a meal…

Buddhist
*
(serving the food)

In this food I see clearly
the presence of the entire universe
supporting my existence.

*
(looking at the plate of food)

All living beings are struggling
for life. May they all have enough food
to eat today.

*
(just before eating)

The plate is filled with food.
I am aware that each morsel
is the fruit
of much hard work
by those who produced it.

*
(beginning to eat)

With the first taste, I promise
to practice loving kindness.
With the second, I promise
to relieve the suffering of others.
With the third,
I promise to see others’ joy as my own.
With the fourth,
I promise to learn the way of nonattachment and equanimity.

*
(after the meal)

The plate is empty.
My hunger is satisfied.
I vow to live for the benefit
of all living beings.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to incorporate that entire prayer ceremony into your Thanksgiving meal?

Now here is a Hindu prayer titled an
Affirmation to my body…
I recognize you are the temple
in which my spirit and creative energy
dwell.
I have created you from my need
to have my spirit manifested on earth
so that I may have this time to learn
and grow.
I offer you this food so that you may continue
to sustain my creative energy, my spirit,
my soul.
I offer this food to you with love,
and a sincere desire for you to remain free
from disease and
disharmony.

I accept you as my own creation.

I need you.

I love you.

I have never thought of my body in quite that way – but it is quite lovely…

If you are looking to make your Thanksgiving Day and meal a little more special try one of these prayers…

here is an Islamic prayer…

“In the name of
the compassionate
and beneficent God”
I couldn’t find anything after that but I think you could add whatever your feelings of Thanksgiving are after that beginning.

And here is a Judaic prayer…

Blessed art Thou, O Lord our G-d,
King of the Universe,
Who creates many living
beings and the things they
need. For all that Thou hast
created to sustain
the life of every living
being, blessed be Thou,
the Life of the universe.

And here a Christian (Gaelic) Prayer – it isn’t about Thanksgiving but I think it is so beautiful that I have to include it and if you want to include this as part of your Thanksgiving all you have to do is add your own touch at the end on being thankful.

God to enfold me,
God to surround me,
God in my speaking,
God in my thinking,
God in my sleeping,
God in my waking,
God in my watching,
God in my hoping,
God in my life,
God in my lips,
God in my soul,
God in my heart.
God in my sufficing,
God in my slumber,
God in my mine ever-lasting soul,
God in mine serenity.
And here you can add whatever it is you want to say about giving thanks with your family.

Thankful for Each Other
Dear Lord,
As we gather together around this table
laden with your plentiful gifts to us,
we thank You for always providing
what we really need
and for sometimes granting wishes
for things we don’t really need.
Today, let us be especially thankful
for each other–for family and friends
who enrich our lives in wonderful ways,
even when they present us with challenges.
Let us join together now
in peaceful, loving fellowship
to celebrate Your love for us
and our love for each other. Amen.
By Joanna Fuchs

This brings me to the conclusion of my Thanksgiving offerings.
May God bless you – each and every one…

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The Laws of God and Man

Compiled by
Rev. Nancy Becker

The First Law
The first law that we read of in the Bible is the simple one that was given to Adam and Eve in Paradise, when God told them not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and bad. And in this first instance, a penalty was spelled out: Death to the offender.
It showed for the first time what God’s sentence would be for those who chose to rebel against Him. And as such, it became a primary goal for the one who was likely the first universal rebel, Lucifer, as the serpent, to have this rule broken. So, Lucifer set out to challenge God by lying to the first humans. It’s interesting that God’s law to Adam and Eve was so simple. Once again, no negative thoughts of the possibility of murder, theft, rape, or any other wrongdoings were mentioned, because it wasn’t necessary. Adam and Eve were innocent of any misdeeds, in fact, that were completely unaware that misdeeds were even possible, but there was just the one command – do not eat of the tree of knowledge.
Tempted by the serpent into believing that they would become like God if they ate of the tree – they did so and afterward they became ashamed. They looked upon each other’s nakedness and felt shame and covered themselves with fig leaves and even tried to hide from God. But He called them and knowing what they did He expelled them from Eden and sent them out into the harsh world to lead a mortal life, including eventual physical death. Now, they and their children to come would know cold and hunger and pain and hard work.
The First Murder
The worst crime that is possible for us to commit is murder. And as might be expected, the second sin mentioned in the Bible was murder – when Adam and Eve’s eldest son Cain murdered his brother, Abel. Cain was a farmer and tended the fields while his younger brother Abel was a shepherd. Cain and Abel made offerings to God. Cain offered a portion of his crops and Abel offered slaughtered sheep. God rejected Cain’s offerings of the fruits of his crops. But God accepted the animal sacrifices brought by Abel. Cain was furious and so jealous of his brother that he lured Abel into the field and murdered him. God’s penalty on Cain wasn’t death, but the curse of having to live a hard life, to wander and be a vagabond.
There was no law until then that forbade murder. There was just the good example set by God’s love, and what we call ‘conscience’ or good sense, to tell all intelligent living creatures what was right and wrong. Yet, as the Bible tells us, murder and other human vices continued to increase to the point that, as it says, God saw all the badness that men were doing on the earth and that it was increasing, and the motivation of their hearts was twisted toward evil.
So, except for the righteous man Noah and his family, God destroyed all of humanity and much of the animal kingdom. From the time of Adam to Noah, the law of God was not given, although through conscience men had an intuitive knowledge of good and evil. (Romans 5:12-13).
In Genesis chapter 6 verses 5-7 (5) “And God seeing that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that all their heart was bent upon evil at all times (6) And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” (7) He said “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth from man even to beasts from the creeping thing even to the fowls of the air for it repenteth me that I have made them.”
And in Genesis 6: vs 8 Noah found grace before the Lord.
And in the following days as God grew tired of the wickedness of men, Noah and his family grew in grace in the eyes of the Lord. So when God decided to send the great flood He wanted to save Noah and his family and God told Noah to build the ark and to bring two of every living creature on board. It rained forty days and nights and when it was done God gave the rainbow as a sign that He would never destroy the man by water again.
However, left without divine law, mankind grew not better, but worse. So God decided to give laws, first to Noah, and later, more especially, to Moses.
Also it is said of the Noachian Laws, a Jewish Talmudic designation for seven biblical laws God had given to Adam and to Noah before the revelation to Moses on Mt. Sinai and consequently they are said to be binding on all mankind.
Beginning with Genesis 2:16, the Babylonian Talmud listed the first six commandments as prohibitions against idolatry, blasphemy, murder, adultery, and robbery and the positive command to establish courts of justice (with all that this implies). After the Flood a seventh commandment, given to Noah, forbade the eating of flesh cut from a living animal (Gen. 9:4). Though the number of laws was later increased to 30 with the addition of prohibitions against castration, sorcery, and other practices, the “seven laws,” with minor variations, retained their original status as authoritative commandments and as the source of other laws. As basic statutes safeguarding monotheism and guaranteeing proper ethical conduct in society, these laws provided a legal framework for alien residents in Jewish territory. Maimonides thus regarded anyone who observed these laws as one “assured of a portion in the world to come.” Throughout the ages scholars have viewed the Noachian Laws as a link between Judaism and Christianity, as universal norms of ethical conduct, as a basic concept in international law, or as a guarantee of fundamental human rights for all.

God’s Laws After the flood
Here’s what God said in Genesis 9:3-6, ‘All living and slithering animals can serve as meat for you. I have given them all to you as though they were green vegetation. But you must not eat flesh with its blood of life. Otherwise, I will require your blood at the hand of all the wild animals. I will also require a man’s life at the hand of his human brothers. Whoever spills the blood of men will also have their blood spilled, because I made man in the image of God.’
So, there were just two evil actions that God said would provide bad results.
They were:
1. The blood of animals was not to be eaten (it was to be poured out as some sort of a sacrifice to God), otherwise the violator would be liable to be killed by wild animals
2. Every man who murdered another was liable to be killed by fellow humans.

Since these instructions were given to the common forefather of all post-flood humans – Noah, they are obviously still valid, regardless of traditions, modern ideas, and so-called ‘politically-correct’ thinking.
One of the most interesting stories to outline what human life and its goodness was like before there were any laws from God on such matters, is the story of the actions and thinking of Jacob’s son, Joseph, who served as a slave in the house of an Egyptian named Potiphar.
Potiphar’s wife was attracted to Joseph and she tried to seduce him. Yet, Joseph resisted and ran away from her. Why? Because, even though he was slave, he was loyal to his master who had put him in charge of his house and Joseph explained . . “So, how could I do such a bad thing and actually sin against God?” taken from Genesis 39:7-9).
God apparently hadn’t yet given a law forbidding adultery. However, Joseph used his good sense of propriety in understanding that having sex with another man’s wife (especially his master’s) was wrong. So, no law was required for a righteous man to make the right decision. Unfortunately for Joseph, the wife was furious at his refusal of her charms and reported that he had forced himself on her. And the good Joseph was jailed.

So Why the law?
As we have seen, without law mankind became worse and worse until God deemed it was necessary that they be destroyed. After the flood, God told Noah and his sons that they may eat the flesh of animals without the blood, and that they will be punished for murder. Later, God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mt Sinai
The Ten Commandments
And God spoke all these words: Exodus 20: 2-17
(2) I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery;
1. (3) Do not have any other gods before me.
2. (4) You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. (5) You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me,6 but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
3. (7) You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
4. (8) Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. (9) For six days you shall labour and do all your work. (10) But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. (11) For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.
5. (12) Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
6. (13) You shall not murder.
7. (14) You shall not commit adultery.
8. (15) You shall not steal.
9. (16) You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
10. (17) You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

And of course through all of the years since, laws have become an integral – and sometimes overbearing – part of our lives. Like when the seat belt laws first came out I was against it. I felt my rights were being infringed upon to force me to wear a seatbelt or suffer the punishment under the law . I must admit that if it hadn’t been made a law – I probably would not be wearing one – even though it has been proven to save lives.
From Village laws to town and city laws and state and country and even international…there are rules and regulations to govern just about every aspect of our lives – but these are not from God they are man-made laws – created to keep the peace, and I must admit, necessary in a world gone riot.
Perhaps my favorite quote from the Bible is in The Epistle of Saint Paul the Apostle to the Romans:
In Romans: Chapter 13: 8-10 Paul said: 8 Owe no man anything except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the Law. 9 For “Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not covet.”; and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” 10 Love does no evil to a neighbor. Love therefore is the fulfillment of the Law.
WOW! Saint Paul the Apostle may have been the first flower child. But, I honestly believe that people of all faiths and all religions of good intentions and love for the Creator, can agree with what Paul said.

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The Seven Living Virtues vs. The Seven Deadly Sins

The Seven Living Virtues vs.The Seven Deadly Sins
We have all heard of the Seven Deadly sins: Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride but what about the Seven Living Virtues?
#1 — Chastity – the opposite of Lust – means in the literal sense abstaining from sexual conduct according to one’s state in life; the practice of Courtly love and Romantic friendship. Ahhhh…But it also means cleanliness through cultivated good health and hygiene, and maintained by refraining from intoxicants. Embracing of moral wholesomeness and achieving purity of thought through education and betterment… And. ..the ability to refrain from being distracted and influenced by hostility, temptation or corruption. To be honest with oneself, one’s family, one’s friends, and to all of humanity. Yes, if you are honest with yourself, it just follows that you will be honest with your family, your friends, your co-workers. Sometimes it is very difficult to take a long hard look at oneself and one’s motivations. Yet, that is something we need to do especially if something just doesn’t feel right! If you say something harsh or not completely true and you don’t know why. Take a few quiet moments and pray to the Creator. Ask yourself why did I do that or say that? The answer will come and you may not like it but it is better to know and correct it. Being honest with oneself.

# 2 —- Temperance – the opposite of Gluttony — is Self-Control, Justice, Honor, Abstention and Restraint, the constant mindfulness of others and one’s surroundings; practicing self-control, abstention, moderation, deferred gratification and prudence. The key word here is Moderation – to avoid excesses that can literally take control of your life. There are so many wonderful things in life to enjoy – many are simple and free. Just take a moment and see how many you can find in your life right now. It could be something as simple as a beautiful sunny morning or as joyful as a child’s laughter.

#3 Charity – the opposite of Greed – is Benevolence, Generosity, Self-Sacrifice. In Christian theology Charity, or love is the greatest of the three theological virtues. Love, in this sense meaning an unlimited loving-kindness towards all others, is held to be the ultimate perfection of the human spirit, because it is said to both glorify and reflect the nature of God. In its extreme form such love can be self sacrificial. Mother Teresa comes to mind here and her 45 years of work with the poor, orphaned, sick and dying in the ghettos of India. But we don’t have to be self-sacrificing to show Charity to others. We can volunteer in our community or at our children’s school. There are so many ways we can make the difference in our lives and also in someone else’s life.

# 4 Diligence – the opposite of sloth – also Persistence, Effort, and Ethics. Having a zealous and careful nature in one’s actions and work and a decisive work ethic. Steadfastness in belief and fortitude – the capability of not giving up; budgeting one’s time; monitoring one’s own activities to guard against laziness. Upholding one’s convictions at all times, especially – now – here comes the most important part – especially when no one else is watching – that is called Integrity.

I’m sure we have all been there at one time or another in our lives, you know, the times when we just get so tired of what we are doing that we just want to stop whatever it is – but we don’t …we continue to the end and at the end we feel so much better for having completed the project or the job that we almost forgot how tired we really were! That is diligence – an anti-sloth activity!

#5 Patience – the opposite of wrath – also serenity, tolerance, peace and mercy, Forbearance and endurance through moderation; resolving conflicts and injustice peacefully, as opposed to resorting to violence with the ability to forgive; to show mercy. Not killing or being violent in any way to any life form or sentient being; creating a sense of peaceful stability and community. How can we practice patience in our every-day lives? Oh that is easy I can hear you all saying – I’m patient with my children, or my workers OK! I understand that – but – do you show patience when someone in front of you is driving slower than you like? Or waiting on line – anywhere? Yes, I’m sure we can improve on our patience skills.

# 6 Kindness – the opposite of envy – loyalty, compassion, integrity, compassion and friendship for its own sake. Empathy and trust without prejudice or resentment; the ability to have unconditional love and voluntary kindness without bias or spite; having a positive outlook and cheerful demeanor; to inspire kindness in others. This one – kindness – is so easy, being kind just makes you feel good. Your heart fills up and swells with good feelings about the situation, the other person…about yourself… And the most wonderful thing about kindness is that feeling good about yourself in this way is rarely prideful. It is just a good, honest, good feeling.

# 7 Humility – the opposite of pride – also bravery, modesty, reverence, altruism, having modest behavior, selflessness, and the giving of respect. The courage of the heart necessary to undertake tasks which are difficult, tedious or unglamorous, and to graciously accept the sacrifices involved. To have reverence for those who have wisdom. Giving credit where credit is due; not unfairly glorifying one’s own self. Being faithful to promises, no matter how big or small they may be – now that is worth repeating – Being faithful to promises, no matter how big or small they may be! Sometimes it is so easy to make a promise, “I’ll read that story to you later.” Or “I’ll do it later.” But does later ever come? Or – is that just a means of saying “no” with actually saying ”no”?
Having humility is difficult in today’s society. You have to get ahead! You have to get out there and blow your own horn! You have to make that big splash in business! Stand out from the crowd! It’s every man for himself! Right? And in your social life – you have to keep up! You can’t fall behind I mean what would your neighbors think?… Stop!!! Yes, unfortunately, a lot of that is true today, but we all know someone who made it on his own merit without stepping on others. Someone who maybe even gave a helping hand to a colleague? Someone who may even have stepped aside to not cast a shadow on someone else’s efforts? You can be that someone, too…
I am reminded of Dr. Mikao Usui, the developer and discoverer of Usui Reiki, and his five ideals, which to me, sum up the easiest guide on how to live one’s life in grace. They are: Just for today do not anger, do not worry and be filled with gratitude. Do your work honestly and be kind to people…
Dr. Usui was a kind and gentle man. He didn’t yell and say “You must do this every single day for the rest of your life!” Noooo he understood us and our frailties. So he said – Just for today do not anger, do not worry (or maybe – don’t waste time on worry instead take action to remedy whatever situation you are worried about), and be filled with gratitude. Do your work honestly and be kind to people.
He was also a very wise man because actually – isn’t every day – today?

Before I leave you today I would like to leave you with one affirmation: Say it three times, then whenever you feel the need.
“I am the person I strive to be. I keep God in my heart, and I am surrounded by the golden light of God’s love. I am to others as I wish them to be to me. And so it is…
Until next time, may God bless you and keep you safe.

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