Separating Church & State Honors Our Ancestors

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

U.S. Constitution, First Amendment, Establishment and Free Exercise clauses

For some time I’ve been observing a growing trend among some Christians (mostly evangelical) to want to end the separation of church and state mandated by the Constitution and make every one conform to Christian values and participate in Christian practices.  They say they love America but their stance is so adverse to the foundation stones of our nation, it’s hard to imagine they even know our history.

I’ve been particularly thinking about it in light of my genealogy research and the many ancestors who came here to get away from religious persecution.  My 10x great grandfather, William Brewster, was a Puritan Separatist and his religious views first forced him to flee England for Holland.  He later managed to return to England long enough to board the Mayflower and come to the Plymouth Colony.

He was one of multitudes of Puritans who fled England because their religious beliefs were outlawed.  They braved the hazardous voyage across the ocean and came to the new world in the hope of finding freedom to worship as they chose.

On my mother’s side I’ve long since lost count of the number of Scottish Presbyterians — they’re all over the tree on both sides of her family.  Some broke off from the Presbyterian Church in Scotland and came here to establish their version of Presbyterianism.  Others, after accepting land in Ireland for some years, wound up fleeing to America when England began persecuting Presbyterians for their failure to follow Anglican law.

Presbyterians weren’t particularly welcome here either as the established religions along the coast disapproved of their beliefs.  They gave the Scots land at what were then the frontiers, in order to let them serve as buffers against the Native tribes.  In other words they were expendable.  Presbyterian ministers were rare in those parts, so many became Baptists.

These are just some of the stories of religious persecution that led many of our early citizens to the Colonies.  The Founding Fathers were well aware of the persecution that had hounded so many out of their homes and across an ocean.  There is also a great deal of evidence many of them were aware of other religions, such as Hinduism, Islam, etc.  So when they established free exercise of religion and forbade the establishment of a state religion, they were specifically safeguarding people from the kind of persecution so many had endured and, by their explicit failure to name Christianity or any denomination thereof, they extended that freedom to all religions.

Ironically many of those who are trying to force everyone to conform to their religious beliefs, to bring Christian prayers back into schools and make Muslim and Jewish and Hindu children participate, are descendants of the persecuted Christians who arrived in a new land seeking freedom to worship as they chose.

Every time I see one of these calls for the State to violate the First Amendment and participate in promoting evangelical Christian beliefs, I feel my ancestors have been dishonored.  That their suffering has been forgotten.  “Separation of church and state” were Jefferson’s words, describing the meaning of the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses, a separation created to make sure such persecution would not be repeated.

This wall between state and church was built to ensure all people freedom to pursue their religious beliefs without interference from the government.  Every call to take down that wall is an assault on one of the great foundation stones of the United States of America and shows either ignorance of or contempt for one of the most important lynch pins of our democracy; one which is central to its greatness.

Let’s not forget why so many of the original settlers came here.  Honor their pursuit of religious freedom by honoring religious freedom.

Thankful… Thanksgiving…

fresh cranberry compote from another year

fresh cranberry compote

Here in the U.S., Thanksgiving just started.  Since I made things ahead and bought most of the side dishes, a lovely dinner will be had and I can have a pretty leisurely day leading up to it.  (you can see my main recipe over on the other blog, here)

I’m so grateful to be able to buy the food for such a meal, to have the wherewithal to make such a meal and for having a nice home in which to eat it.

Although I’m glad NaBloPoMo is almost over, I’ve also enjoyed it and am so thankful for the news friends I’ve made.  And even more thankful for the blogging friendships here that now stretch years.  Love you all!

And I ask for prayers for the protesters at Standing Rock.  Some of my local friends are about to head off to join them, so if you can add thoughts for a safe journey for them as well, I’d so appreciate it.

Whether you’re having a holiday today or it’s just an ordinary day, I wish you peace, happiness and love.

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Heading off; CPS open for comments

Peace symbol for CPS

 

I’m just finishing packing bags and will be on the road tomorrow afternoon (see post on other blog).   More posts will probably be on the other blog this week as I’m planning to chronicle the journey.

Don’t forget to pray or chant or meditate for peace a minimum of 10 minutes tonight between 7 and 11:59 pm.  See CPS page for more info.

If you want to complete the chant for your enemies challenge you need to start tonight or tomorrow to finish seven days of chanting by midnight on Sept. 15.  Doesn’t really have to be an enemy — just someone you know and with whom you have some degree of difficulty.

Chanting this afternoon

Wikimedia commons by AnonMoos

For anyone who’s interested in feeling more connected during the chanting, there will be a group of us here in the Bluegrass chanting from about 3:15-4:15 p.m. EDT today (Aug. 4).   This is outside the time frame of Collective Prayer Sundays and is meeting the challenge to gather at least three other people and chant with them by Aug. 11 at midnight.  I’ll also chant at my usual time, approx. 11:45 p.m. EDT  And there’s a recording of me chanting on the Collective Prayer Sundays page.

For the first 15 minutes we will chant;

May I be filled with lovingkindness

May I be well

May I be peaceful and at ease

May I be happy.

For the second 15 minutes we will chant:

May ______  (friend or loved one’s name-same person all the way through) be filled with lovingkindness

May he/she be well

May he/she be peaceful and at ease

May he/she be happy.

We’ll do a brief meditative walk at the halfway point.  The final half hour will be spent chanting:

May the earth be filled with lovingkindness

May she be well

May she be peaceful and at ease

May she be happy.  [The End]

Of course, say your own prayer or chant if you wish.

I know there are some other bloggers who are planning to pray or chant at the same time and there are a couple of other groups around here with meetings at that time who plan to stop and chant at the same time.  I’ll be so interested to hear comments about how it felt to either (1) chant at the same time as this gathering, and/or (2) to chant with your own group.  Don’t forget the Facebook page is also available for comment — click the “like” button to the right (I think you have to be logged in to FB).

My heart’s glowing

As always I enjoyed chanting lovingkindness for the earth this evening.  I can feel my heart fill with energy and then soften my whole being.  It’s been a long time since I’ve had a regular meditation practice — it had become more like sparsely sporadic.  From the first week, the chant reminded me of the sweetness of that space.

Rather than chanting more often for some reason it drew me back to yoga nidra practice.  Ever since Collective Prayer Sundays began I’ve been back to practicing yoga nidra 3-5 times a week.  My whole being is feeling the impact of this return to holding space for stillness.  I hope that those of you who are praying and chanting along with me are finding your lives enriched by it too.

Building Community to Pray for Peace

Challenge:  You’ll see reference to two other global peace prayer happenings this Sunday in the post below.  My challenge is for you to do one or both of the others as well as the 10 minutes of chanting/praying for Collective Prayer Sundays.  As a major night owl I’m rarely moving by 9 a.m. so I’ll admit it’s unlikely that I’ll be joining that one and thus unlikely that I’ll meet the full challenge.  Comment here on your experience of doing more than one prayer for peace or on any similarities or differences between the experiences.

In last Sunday’s post I described a worry I noticed while chanting that this effort to create a worldwide prayer for peace has failed.  Since I’m still on a learning curve about getting the word out, realistically I know that it’s way too early to know whether it’s going to be successful or not.  But the comment drew a really great response from Karen Wan of Writing Your Destiny and Enchanting Adventures and with her permission I’m copying it here:

“Leigh,
I don’t think you’ve failed with your Sunday peace effort, but I do wonder if having a free teleconference that you lead that people could join would help increase the feeling of community.

It’s probably just me, but I can’t say that I find myself feeling connected to anyone else during the prayers, and unfortunately the Sunday night prayer feels like just another task to add to my to do list, so to be honest, I simply do my normal meditations that I was already doing that include a focus on peace and prosperity for all people.

Yet, I want to support you and I applaud you for taking action to do something to promote world and personal peace. I’ll keep trying to get more in the spirit of your intentions.

Karen”

She’s right, so far there’s not much sense of community around this.  I’ve been working away at developing ways to create community for this prayer project.  I finally figured out the Facebook page and, as you can see, there’s a link on the right side of the blog.  I’m putting a comment each day on the FB page and you’re welcome to start your own threads, so that’s a place where you can engage in conversation about your experience of the prayers.  I put up a post on this blog each Sunday to open the comments for discussion as well.  So even if you don’t have someone to chant or pray with, you can join a discussion about the experience on the blog or on FB.

I’m also working on creating an audio file as a podcast or some other form on line in which I will be saying the chant for 10 minutes so that anyone who wants to can chant with me.  I’m considering the suggestion to do a teleconference but I see it as having the same issue I’ve had about simultaneous prayers in general:  whatever times suits me for the conference will be the middle of the night some place in the world and breakfast time someplace else, etc.  My thought was that a permanent link to a recording of the chant gives everyone a way to chant along with me at whatever time suits.  Thoughts and suggestions about this are welcome.

Some other suggestions:

1.  Karen and I are going to both meditate/chant at 9:30 CDT (her time)/10:30 EDT (my time) this Sunday.  If any of you want to feel as if you’re connecting in, chant at the same time we are and see if that makes a difference.  Get on one of the pages after you chant to find others who want to discuss.

2.  There’s a global meditation project over on Architects of a New Dawn that has a teleconferenced meditation every week beginning this Sunday:  World Healing and Harmony Prayer and Meditation .  It’s base seems to be in Australia so the time doesn’t suit me, but if it works for you (9 a.m. EDT), you can join a group by participating.  It won’t be in the time frame of my project but, hey, it’s praying for peace on Sunday — how could I complain?

3.  I encourage you to find like-minded people in your area and either get together in person to chant or agree upon a time that you will all chant/pray/meditate and then do a conference call or an online chat afterwards to connect.

4.  Think about creating posts about your experience of this chanting and tie them in to Bloggers4Peace — that way you can link into both this community and the growing B4Peace group.

Also note, this Sunday Ringo Starr has asked the world to stop and pray for peace at noon this Sunday in your time zone.

While I understand the sense of wanting community and I encourage doing this with community, I also really believe that since each of us is part of the All That Is, that every individual prayer has an impact on all of us and that even if we’re all chanting separately, if we can get the numbers to be big enough, the prayers will start having an impact.  I don’t think it’s fast.  I think we might have to keep praying weekly for a long time to shift the world.  But I do think we can do it.  See my previous post on the collective effects of raising vibrations for more info.

I’m also happy to get other suggestions.  As I’ve mentioned, I’m not that much of a techie nor very into social media other than blogging.  I’ve been researching all this for my upcoming ebook and it finally occurred to me to try to use some of what I’m learning for this project but I’m a neophyte so advice from those more experienced is welcome!

Chanting Mindfully for Peace

Meditation in Rocca di Cerrare by Dedda 71. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pagan_meditation2.jpg

Peaceful Meditation

This week’s challenge was to practice mindfulness while chanting or praying — to keep your focus only on the words of the chant or prayer or vision and to notice what intruded.

I didn’t manage to do a separate chant ahead of time so I combined tonight’s practice with the mindfulness practice.  I actually always try to stay mindful when I chant so I really just added trying to simultaneously stay mindful and yet notice what crossed my mind.  I wasn’t very mindful tonight.

I was interested to see that the thoughts that arose related to launching this prayer effort.  I’ve been really excited because being a part of moving toward peace has been very important to me for a long time.  Yet I don’t have the feeling so far that very many others are excited, so at first my thoughts jumped to feeling that this has failed (even though I know that it takes time to launch something like this and I have a lot of work still to do about getting the word out).

I pulled my thoughts back to the chant and then they wandered to the point, six or seven years back, when a dear friend–with excellent skills at using right listening to guide her friends deeper into their own hearts–led me to create a workshop I called Journey to Peace along with realizing that I seriously want to be assisting the world toward peace.  I haven’t taught the workshop in a while and I thought I should dust it off and bring it out again.

I don’t feel there’s a deep analysis to do about these thoughts as they swirled around the launching of this project and why I started; doesn’t seem too surprising given what and why I was chanting.  Sometimes I do note deeper issues like some part of me that wants to distract me from the possibility of being peaceful, at ease and happy…. but not tonight.

The last few minutes I managed to successfully use my trick of watching the words float across my inner visual “screen” to stay focused only on the chant.  That, of course, was when I finally dropped into a deeper and more peaceful space.

Tell me about your experience with the challenge.  Or just how it feels to participate in meditating.

 

Praying for me or thee

By Presearch (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

What a day for prayers for peace.  I participated in the Global Meditation Project’s prayer for peace at noon EDT and then chanted again for peace for Collective Prayer Sundays–lovely.  I tried an experiment based on my challenge to those of you who are participating in CPS:  yesterday I chanted (the lovingkindness chant) for myself, at noon today I chanted for Earth, and late this evening when I participated in CPS I first chanted 10 minutes for myself and then 10 minutes for Earth.

The challenge grew out of my experience over some years with the lovingkindness chant.  As previously mentioned, traditionally the chanting is done in a series, first chanting for yourself, then loved ones, then people you don’t like, then enemies (with my students I divide that into people you know and don’t like and people you don’t know but don’t like [such as president, dictator, actor, etc.], then the world, then all sentient beings.  For the first years that I chanted, I spent very little time on chanting for myself out of some sense that a “good” person should chant for others and not so selfish as to chant for self.

Five or six years ago I had a sort of epiphany that led me to chant only for myself most of the time.  So many things changed for me with that one small shift.  First of all, I soon realized that chanting for myself expanded my heart so much that it really changed the quality of chanting for others for the better.  For a long time when I chanted for myself I’d become choked up or openly start sobbing.  I realized I’d just about never been that kind or caring toward myself and it tapped into a deep well of emotions about my worthiness and need for love.

The more I expanded and felt my heart glow and vibrate from the chanting the more I understood that oneness means there’s really no difference between chanting for myself and chanting for others.  So my basic experience in the chanting I did the last two days was that there was very little difference for me in how it felt to chant only for myself (20 minutes) or only for Earth (15 minutes) but when I chanted first for myself (10 minutes) and then for the Earth (10 minutes) I felt much more expanded and full when I came to the second part, where I chanted for Earth — and I would say I was much more expanded by the end of 20 minutes total than I was last Sunday when I chanted 30 minutes just for Earth.

Like I said, there’s no right or wrong to this.  All of that is just my experience.  I’m very interested to hear whether anyone tried the challenge and, if so, how it felt to you.  As always, please tag with CollPraySun — and mentioning the page:  https://bluegrassnotes.wordpress.com/collective-prayer-sunday/ so that people can get the skinny on this effort to spread prayers for peace around the world will be much appreciated!

Collective Prayer Sundays Week Two

	This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3b43838

Once again, it’s just after midnight EDT and I know many places are way into Sunday.  This is also one of those Sundays I warned you about when I’m just writing, hey, here’s the prayer reminder and post comments here if you wish.

When to pray:  10 minutes minimum between 7:00 and 11:59 pm in your time zone

What prayer:  any prayer, chant, spell, guided meditation for peace, etc. that you wish.  Suggested chant:

May the earth be filled with lovingkindness

May she be well

May she be peaceful and at ease

May she be happy

If you tried the challenge I made in Wednesday’s post, post comments here or do your own post and tag it with CollPraySun.  E-mail me at collpraysun at gmail dot com if you want to comment privately.

Prayers, visioning, chanting — are they something? Part 1

Back when we were gearing up for the Iraq War I was very excited when James Twyman put out the call for a million to participate in praying for peace.  I believe in the power of prayer and the collective power multiplied when people pray together so I thought it had a good shot.  We didn’t get called together more than a few times before the war started (and after that Twyman quit calling us to prayer and used the large list he’d garnered to market his products endlessly…).   I don’t know if others felt that prayer failed — I just felt we didn’t have enough time and/or enough people.

When the collective prayer stopped I started saying the lovingkindness chant every day for half an hour.  The chanting changed me–softened me, changed my attitude about the president and bin Laden.  I believe that when we each make those changes it has an impact on the whole web of oneness but of course I have no way of knowing whether there was a specific impact outside of me due to the chanting.

At the time this was going on, all around me people talked about how we had to do something.  Among many people I knew the same theme kept emerging and whenever I suggested that the best course would be to hold a vision of peace, to create peace within ourselves, to chant and pray for peace, etc. I was told, “That’s all nice, but we really have to do something.”  I didn’t realize that praying was doing nothing, that it counted as nothing.

I kept thinking, “What if prayer is something?”

Many political issues have arisen since that time.  I know lots of people who feel called to act when each issue arises  I was a long time activist myself so I get it. But  I keep hearing the vitriol, the name-calling, the fury that seems to fuel a lot of that action and I cringe every time I encounter it.  I keep praying and chanting and trying to clear everything in me that stands in the way of being peace.  When I suggest that becoming peace and praying for peace and holding the vision of harmony might be useful I’m told, “But you have to do something.  When you see this wrong you have to do something.”  I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, apparently praying is seen by most as nothing.

I keep thinking, “What if prayer is something?”

Lately I’ve been around lots of talk about global warming and the horrible future we face if people don’t change radically in their behaviors.  I suggest that it would help if we gathered to envision the earth as healed, prayed about the earth being healed, healed ourselves.  I’m always told, “That’s nice, but you have to DO something (often followed by lists of behaviors that ‘people’ must change…).”  Yeah, it seems I’m hard to convince of the truth so many apparently see, that visioning and praying and chanting and healing are nothing.

I keep thinking, “I believe it’s something.”