Reflectionary by Rev Mark Gallup

A Reflection on Ostara

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It’s All Such a Delicate Balance

And it’s all such a delicate balance.
It takes away just as much as it gives.
But to live it is real,
And to love it is to feel
That you’re a part of what everything is.[1]

“Equinox” means “equal night” and marks the two days each year when the duration of sunlight and darkness are equal. The Spring Equinox is known as “Ostara” in the Celtic lands and as “Eostre” – from which we get the word “Easter” – in old English after the goddess Ostern who ruled over this day.
The equinox is a metaphor for the balance of light and darkness in our individual lives. I don’t mean by this the equilibrium between joy and sorrow as might first seem implied. What I mean by the equinoctial life is recognizing the shadow side of our being and the role it has to play in who we are.
We all have a persona, what we would like to be and how we wish to be seen by the world. “Persona” is a Latin word that literally means “mask”. We put on many masks that we wear depending upon the situation. We take on our persona growing up and learning how to live in the world. Putting it another way, we act so as to give the world what we think it wants.
Masking ourselves often results in giving up primal and natural instincts, desires, and talents that are our birthright. Actually, we don’t give them up; they are repressed into the subliminal psyche. This is our shadow self of repressed ideas, instincts, impulses, wildness, and desires. Our cultural upbringing has taught us to fear the shadow self and to see it as dark. So we close it out of our consciousness, tucking it away where we won’t have to deal with it.
This is not healthy. Not only is the shadow self often the source of our authenticity – our birthright – but also a source of creative energy. We need to open the door of the shadow self and balance what we find with the public persona we present to the world.
This does not mean that we give ourselves over totally to instinct and impulse. We do still need to live in the world and get along with people after all. It is a delicate balance. But our public persona needs to be balanced with our natural primal self for us to be who we really are. We can’t be an honest part of “what everything is” unless we do. To live this way is real. Love the balance.
So what aspect of your shadow self comes to mind as you read these words? And how will you engage it in the delicate dance with the persona you present to the world?

[1] “Delicate Balance” written and sung by Tom Dundee from the 1997 album Lyfe Tyme a Rhyme
Photo © 2015 Emm Jay Molotov, “Light and Dark Vodu part 1”, in The Alternative Spirit

 

 

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Rev. Mark Gallup is a Pagan high priest, interfaith minister, spiritual seeker, mystic, and diviner of the Natural World. Mark has been a practicing Pagan for nearly 30 years. He is a graduate of the College of Wicca and Old Lore as well as being trained in Feri. Mark was ordained in 2013 as an interfaith minister by the Chaplaincy Institute of Maine. Along with his wife, Mary Gelfand, he leads Earth-centered spiritual events and classes at 1st Parish UU Church in Portland, ME.

 

Refelctionary by Yehezkel Landau

A Jew Looks at Easter Passover and Lent

This year Good Friday and the Passover seder fall on the same day, April 3. This convergence of sacred times for Christians and Jews prompts this reflection. I am also conscious that this October marks the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, the Vatican II document that ushered in a new era in Christian-Jewish relations. By decrying the sin of anti-Semitism and repudiating the deicide charge against the Jewish people that had haunted relations between the two faith communities for close to two millennia, the Catholic Church took a major step in cleansing its official theology of both anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism.
Christians and Jews alike can be thankful to God that the Christian demonization and scapegoating of Jews has been supplanted by more inclusively compassionate, and historically accurate, interpretations of what happened on the hill of Golgotha almost 2000 years ago. Surmounting this theological hurdle has opened up exciting possibilities for Jews and Christians to learn from one another.[1] The two communities, while retaining their spiritual identities and loyalties, can now appreciate how their respective stories of liberation and redemption can be mutually instructive, even inspirational. We can read the Passover and Easter stories without imposing self-referencing interpretations on one or the other. We can explore together the Suffering Servant passages in Isaiah 52-53 and hear why Christians see Jesus on the Cross in that portrayal, while Jews, basing themselves on earlier references in Isaiah to God’s servant Jacob, tend to see the People Israel allegorized in those prophetic texts.
I try to appreciate the Lenten journey undertaken by my Christian sisters and brothers as a path of discipleship, a devotional act of imitatio Christi. Even though I do not view Jesus as divine or as the messiah anticipated by most Jews, he is nonetheless one of my most influential Jewish teachers. I see him as a Galilean rabbi and faith healer at the radical edge of the Pharisaic spectrum, calling his fellow Jews, in particular “the lost sheep of the House of Israel,” to a more heart-centered way of living out the Torah. Unfortunately, some Christians still see Torah, which means Divine teaching, as a legalistic framework that was supplanted by the Gospel of Love. The perceived dichotomy between Law and Love remains the greatest stumbling block in healing the tragic divide separating Christians and Jews.
As we Jews prepare to symbolically go forth from Egypt once again to receive the Torah at Sinai 50 days later, and as Christians prepare for Easter and the Good News of the Resurrection, let us appreciate the saving grace in both faith traditions. For both are blessed by God, in ways we cannot fully fathom.
Sadly, at this critical moment in history, both Jews and Christians are being targeted by hateful jihadists who do not understand them in this way. Conversely, Muslims are viewed generically by many Christians and Jews as inherently hostile and threatening. This painful reality compels us all to uphold simultaneously two faith responses that are often in tension: compassion for misguided adversaries who, in the words of the dying Jesus, “know not what they do”; and, at the same time, a commitment to the protection of vulnerable human beings who are endangered by murderous hatred. If we believe that God is the Source of both Love and Justice, then Jews, Christians, Muslims, and others can together exemplify imitatio Deo by combating hatred and violence perpetrated by anyone in the name of religion. In so doing, we can ensure that the lives and dignity of our fellow human beings, created in the Divine Image, will be enshrined as sacred values that transcend any theology, creed, or professed devotion to God.

[1] Among the many helpful resources now available, I would recommend the following books for joint study by Christians and Jews: The Synoptic Gospels Set Free: Preaching Without Anti-Judaism by Daniel Harrington, SJ, and
The Gospel of John Set Free: Preaching Without Anti-Judaism by Fr. George Smiga (both from Paulist Press), Jesus the Pharisee: A New Look at the Jewishness of Jesus by Harvey Falk (from Wipf & Stock Publishers), and The Jewish Annotated New Testament edited by Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler (from Oxford University Press).

 

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Dr. Yehezkel Landau is Associate Professor of Interfaith Relations and Holder of the Abrahamic Partnerships Chair at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, where he directs an interfaith training program for Jews, Christians, and Muslims called “Building Abrahamic Partnerships.” A dual Israeli-American citizen, his work has been in the fields of interfaith education and Jewish-Arab peacemaking. He directed the Oz veShalom-Netivot Shalom religious peace movement in Israel during the 1980’s. From 1991 to 2003, he was co-founder and co-director of the Open House Center for Jewish-Arab Coexistence and Reconciliation in Ramle, Israel. (See www.friendsofopenhouse.org). He co-edited Voices from Jerusalem: Jews and Christians Reflect on the Holy Land (Paulist Press, 1992) and authored a research report entitled Healing the Holy Land: Interreligious Peacebuilding in Israel/Palestine (published by the U.S. Institute of Peace in 2003 and accessible at www.usip.org/files/resources/pwks51.pdf

 

 

Reflectionary by Myra Robinson

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I dive bare into
My imagination’s pool
To inform my truth

I open my heart
Escape the walls I made there
And risk my freedom

But what is escape?
Am I running or seeking?
There’s a difference

Go out or come in?
Confusing to say the least
Asking these questions

I’ve heard it said to
Go gently into that deep
Dark night of the soul

Let the answers come
As easily as a breath
In meditation

Throw open the gates
Of my own confining thoughts
Embrace the journey

It amuses me
I can travel so far yet
Stay right where I am

 

 

Myra Robinson photo

 

Myra Robinson started off in art school, but then was a Medical Secretary for many years, before finding her calling in a music, art, and writing. Currently, she is a student at the Chaplaincy Institute of Maine (ChIME) to become an Interfaith Minister; and as part of her internship she facilitates a class on journal writing as a spiritual practice for women. She is an accomplished singer/songwriter in her band Bluezberry Jam, and sings locally in several groups including the hospice choir, Harbour Singers, that sings for those at end-of-life. She is a teacher of “Creative Songwriting” at conferences and adult ed., and conducts music workshops called “Sacred Sounds and Song” for My Sister’s Keeper, a mentoring program for incarcerated (and recently released) women to help them integrate back into the community. Since starting this spiritual journey, Myra has developed a practice of what she calls, Prayer Poetry that combines her talents as a wordsmith with a desire to channel Grace. She is deepening that experience of connection by continuing to be of service to her community, and challenging herself to, as she puts it, “let Spirit flow from the music of my soul.”

Positive American-Islamic Relations by Joel Grossman

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Positive American-Islamic Relations

On Sat., 9/5/15, I headed from Boston to the annual ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) Convention in Chicago. You might ask, why would a “nice Jewish boy”, and interfaith minister, be attending the ISNA Convention? It’s because I’ve been wanting to do work on healing the Muslim – non-Muslim divide in the U.S. ever since 1999, when I did an impromptu reconciliation service on the Israeli – Palestinian conflict in seminary.

I was heading to the Convention to promote my new blog site, “Positive American-Islamic Relations” (P.A.I.R.). I felt I was given a Divine gift of reassurance when it turned out that the woman sitting next to me on the plane was a young Muslim woman who was born in Pakistan, now living outside Boston. She shared with me about her life as a Muslim in the U.S., and was very supportive of this P.A.I.R. project.

At the ISNA convention I was so heartened by the responses that I received from the hundreds of people I spoke with who were staffing the roughly 500 booths at the Convention’s bazaar. So many said this was a great idea. The energy throughout the Convention was joyful and uplifting. It has reinforced my belief that as we interact with people of different faiths and backgrounds with an open mind, we can have most positive experiences. As the public hears about these experiences, my hope is that it will bring about an openness of minds and hearts when having connections with Muslims.

So I invite you to share about your interactions with Muslims at the blog https://posair.wordpress.com.

 

 

 

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Rev. Joel Grossman was ordained an Interfaith Minister by the Chaplaincy Institute for the Arts and Interfaith Ministry, “ChI”, in 2000. He has been a spiritually based psychotherapist since the 1970’s, and has been serving as a hospice chaplain for over ten years. He was a founding faculty member of the Chaplaincy Institute of Maine, “ChIME”, and created and directed it’s MA campus. He lives in West Newbury, MA. He invites you to view, and submit to, his blog “Positive American-Islamic Relations” (P.A.I.R.) at https://posair.wordpress.com.

Reflection on Imbolc by Rev Mark Gallup

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Imbolc

February 2nd is Midwinter Day or the Celtic festival of Imbolc. It marks the turn from high winter to the warmth that will eventually bring spring. In this country, we know it as Groundhog Day.
“If this day be sunny and bright, Winter again will show its might.
If this day be cloudy and grey, Winter soon will pass away.”[1]

Whatever the weather of the day, Imbolc gives us reason to contemplate the changing seasons. Though the harshness and bitterness of winter is at its height, small indications of new life began to appear. So dress warm and go outside to sit in contemplation – in daylight and in darkness – on the changing of the seasons. See if the day be “sunny and bright” or “cloudy and gray”. Do this weekly and see if you don’t notice the mating squirrels chase each other, hear the territorial “phee-bee” call of the chickadees sound in the trees, and observe the northward march on the horizon of the setting sun. Plant a seed and watch it grow in anticipation of spring.

Imbolc has a Pagan pedigree with its ancient roots in the Celtic lands of Britain and Ireland. It is traditionally the time when lambs are born and ewe’s come into their milk. “Imbolc” comes from two words that refer to this lactation. This flow of milk foreshadows the turn of the seasons to spring when life-giving forces return.
Imbolc was also the festival of Brigid, the Celtic Triple Goddess.
“When she raised her white wand on this day, it is said to have breathed life into the mouth of the dead Winter and to bring him to open his eyes to the tears and the smiles, the sighs and the laughter of Spring.”[2]

Brigid is associated with wells and the healing arts, with poetry and inspiration, and with fire and smith-crafting. Brigid’s wells are scattered throughout the British Isles and are still visited regularly by those who continue to seek her energy and healing. On Imbolc, Brigid’s sacred springs and wells were cleaned and her shrines lit with candles. This is in part why the early church replaced this festival with Candlemas.

In Ireland this day commemorates St. Brigit, and there is considerable truth to this saint being derived from the goddess Brigid. By tradition St. Brigit is the daughter of a Druid and later became abbess of Kildare. Having been born while her mother crossed a threshold, she was said to be “neither within nor without”, between the worlds.
So take heart, observe the turn from winter to spring, and spend time in the outdoors connecting with the spirits of the natural world. And – should you desire Brigid’s or St. Brigit’s healing and blessing – leave a silk ribbon on your doorstep for her to bless when you go out.

[1] Eric Sloane, 1963, Folklore of American Weather, p. 39.
[2] Caitlin Matthews, 1999, The Celtic Spirit: Daily Meditations for the Turning Year, p. 103.

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Rev. Mark gallup is a Pagan high priest, interfaith minister, spiritual seeker, mystic, and diviner of the Natural World. Mark has been a practicing Pagan for nearly 30 years. He is a graduate of the College of Wicca and Old Lore as well as being trained in Feri. Mark was ordained in 2013 as an interfaith minister by the Chaplaincy Institute of Maine. Along with his wife, Mary Gelfand, he leads Earth-centered spiritual events and classes at 1st Parish UU Church in Portland, ME.

 

 

Reflectionary by Rev Christina SIllari 1.16.16

“What’s In Your Heart?” Reverend Christina Sillari

In his final years Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. heart was deeply troubled by the state of the world. He felt that his dream had not been fulfilled. He was depressed and prone to weeping; he smoked more, and took comfort in fried chicken and sweet potato pie, the foods of his childhood. But he did not lose heart. He stayed committed to non-violence and to love. He allowed the pain of the world to enter his heart and move him to action. “True compassion,” King declared, “is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”

In February of 1968, one month before he was assassinated, told his congregation in Atlanta Georgia that “Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t need to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermo-dynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

A heart full of grace…a soul generated by love. King demonstrated such grace and love by the manner in which he faced violence and oppression. After time in jail, bombings to his home, a near fatal stabbing, and regular death threats, King still chose love over hate, compassion over bitterness and creativity over victimhood. “If only to save myself” he told the Christian Centaury, “I have attempted to see my personal ordeals as an opportunity to transform myself and heal the people involved in these tragic situations.”
How often do we struggle with this choice – and it is a choice – to love or hate, when we feel we have been done harm? Can we, as King calls us to do, rise to the position of loving the person who does the evil deed while hating the deed the person does?

“Unfulfilled Dreams” was the last sermon King preached to his home congregation. He asks the congregation to “notice that life is a continual story of shattered dreams.” Listening to an audio recording of that sermon, I am struck by the pain and longing in King’s voice. “Yet even so,” he continues “we still have hearts that we can fill with meaning.” He then asked them, “What’s in your heart this morning?” “Is your heart right?”

True compassion is neither a naïve sentiment nor a noble sacrificial emotion. Biblical scholars view compassion as a divinely inspired state of being that has three components: knowledge, moral outrage, and the capacity to truly identify with the other. It is not wrong to live our lives simply and quietly without protest or petition. It is not wrong to maintain our status quo and help our neighbor or the closest charity when we are asked to do so. Yet, I believe King would think it wrong to not look into our hearts, to not see, feel, and experience the pain and suffering in ourselves and the world around us, to not find out how much compassion we are capable of. Because King believed that love is the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality.

Our hearts are a doorway into the mystery of life and to our salvation here and now. We are all troubled at times by our own pain, fear, regret, loss and sorrow. These sufferings are part of the human condition.

It may not be easy to look into our own hearts, at times we fear the pain we find, perhaps, at times we fear the joy. Yet it is easier to experience the stirrings and storms of the heart when we ground ourselves in more than knowledge and outrage but in a deep appreciation and affirmation of life’s goodness. When we practice that which we find fulfilling and nurturing whether that be prayer, meditation, art, music, gardening, cooking, time in nature, creating or listening to music, or any regular practice which brings us a feeling of peace and well being, then we are more prepared to fully experience the moments in life that invite us to look at what’s in our hearts. Salvation comes not when we are free of suffering or conflict but rather when we are able to face suffering and conflict while grounded in love and compassion.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is an inspiration to me. He calls me to experience the holy in everything. King calls me not only to protest in marches and demonstrations for human rights and justice but to protest against the closing of my own heart, so that I can truly experience compassion for myself and the world around me. He reminds me to keep asking myself, “What’s in my heart? Is my heart right?”

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Christina Sillari is a Unitarian Universalist minister who is passionate about yoga, shamanism, star beings, and justice. She serves First Parish in Portland Maine, The UUA Commission on Social Witness, Equality Maine, and Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at USM. She loves swimming, cooking, and the natural world. She lives in Portland with her husband, daughter, and yellow lab.

On Witchery, Reflections on Being A Witch, by Annie Finch

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On Witchery:
Reflections on Being a Witch

Sometimes I am asked what I mean by the word “witch” on my website and business name. And underneath, often I sense the unspoken question, why do you call yourself a witch? Why bother? Why use a word with so many negative associations, from McCarthy’s witch hunts and the Salem trials to green skin, cruel spells, and flying broomsticks?
“Witch” is an old word, and its origins are mysterious. It has several possible etymologies, from a “shaper” of reality to a “wise” woman, a seer and healer. But no matter what its origin, it has clearly maintained a powerful charge.

I prefer to use the word “witch” (rather than the more modern word Wiccan, though sometimes I use that too) because it taps me into ancient sources of the word’s power. Before it became the more scripted religion of Wicca in the 1930s, for centuries across the globe, witchcraft was an everyday, female-centered folk religion in harmony with the earth. Being a witch allies me with indigenous and other earth-centered religions and with a time before the terror of the medieval witch hunts, before the word was clouded by irrational fears and misogynistic prejudices.
Witchcraft is a vital spiritual path that honors the sacred feminine at least as much as the masculine, regards the individual’s own spiritual compass as paramount, and reveres the earth. As a witch, I believe that all nature is holy and interconnected and that there is sacred meaning in the cycles of life and death and the seasons. I use spells and ceremonies, some formal and some spontaneous, some solitary and some in a spiritual group, to shape my own healing and growth. And I do my best to follow the apparently simple but actually very challenging basic law of Wicca, commonly called the “Wiccan rede”: “If it harms none, do as you will.”

This little poem embodies my joy in my spiritual path.

American Witch

Power before, power after,
Witches shall believe in laughter—

Birth in spirit, center, love—
Witches shall believe and move!

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Annie Finch is a poet, writer, performer, playwright, and entrepreneur who has published over 20 books, most recently Spells: New and Selected Poems; A Poet’s Craft: A Comprehensive Guide to Making and Sharing Your Poetry; and Goddess Poems. She is currently completing a new book, American Witch: Five Directions to your Inner Goddess. She is the founder and owner of American Witch Community & Marketplace, an online community centered on earth-centered and women-centered spirituality.

Iceland by Mary Schmaling-Kearns

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Iceland

Thank you for this moment of pause

Of quiet stillness

You wrap your earthen arms

Around my heart and my mind

So I can hear my self

Inside

Take me away from all that is built

Created by human hands

As you press your spirit so close

to mine that I cannot escape

Your beating heart

pulsing in this landscape

Strong & vital as these mountains

Giving me deeper breaths

that keep me alive

Thank you for the delivery

of myself

I can exist simply

As the water does flow

moving

With out trying

to its destination

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MARY SCHMALING-KEARNS is an artist and the soul of the Eye of Henna; Beauty for the Body and Home. A henna artist that designs and creates henna expressions for any number of occasions. She has traveled to india to study the art of Mehndi.
She has been around the country doing henna art mehndi since 1996…from Mardi Gras to International music fairs.

Mary holds a BFA in photography and is a respected multi-media artist. She has exhibited her work in galleries and participated as an artist in shows, lectures and conferences all over the world. She is a Usui Reiki master in magical way. She has special experience providing henna tattoos for weddings, for pregnant woman and for woman who have had mastectomies to create a beautiful connection to the changing form.

Learn more about Mary at http://www.theeyeofhenna.com

Walking With Spirit- 11.28.15

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Walking With Spirit by Carol Gosselin
8 15 2015

Wow! What a message from Spirit.
Yesterday, eagle slowly circled over head…around and around.
Today, the light in my heart is about being, feeling the rhythmic current carrying higher vibrations of health and wholeness….more and more, over and over.
Forgive, Bless, and Be with each moment.
Caress and make love with each tender sacred space.
Trust spirit knows exactly what is going on and will not be denied.
She cannot hesitate in F.E.A.R. (false evidence appearing real) nor play with doubt.
She flows down the mid-way surfing the current of oneness, totally illuminated in love and peace-filled surrender.
No “hurry and worry” pull her apart in hopeless despair.
She walks in beauty and is always a part of the conversation.
Who is she? She is my heart and soul aligned with the Divine Great Spirit.
For me, spirituality is found when I look up and feel the air, and religion is on the
ground, grounded in physical life.
Interfaith honors and respects the ability to respond to the interplay of connections always in a process of co-arising: the great wheel of life that evolves and revolves with more understanding and awareness and deeper lovingkindness and compassion releases acceptance of diversity nurtured in unity.
It’s way O.K., in fact crucially essential, for me to have “my head in the clouds” AND my feet on the ground.
My heart has developed the soul and they have become a bridge of connection that blesses the spaces in between.
All the poets I have admired sing poetic justice throughout my soul.
AL WAKIL is one of the 99 names for Allah and yesterday’s meditation.
This golden energy means “The Trustee”, and today, has impact on former beliefs, current perceptions, values, ethics, and motives.
More purpose and deeper meaning are reflected to my spirit.
My heart knows the way for me, and now, she and soul collaborate in love holding a higher idea that transforms everything into a field of luminosity where all sentient beings walk in grace.
Aho.
And So It Is

 

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Carol Gosselin is an interfaith minister ordained from The Chaplaincy Institute of Maine in 2014 . The quality of life she embraces is rooted in holistic well-being.

A Full Table

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A Full Table

It’s a full table
When I sit with my feelings
And nobody talks
I’ll make friends with them
They just might teach me something
And won’t have to shout
So I’m curious
What do you have to tell me
I ask closest one
It looks surprised, then
They all seem to talk at once

This might take practice

Myra Robinson photo

Myra Robinson started off in art school, but then was a Medical Secretary for many years, before finding her calling in a music, art, and writing. Currently, she is a student at the Chaplaincy Institute of Maine (ChIME) to become an Interfaith Minister; and as part of her internship she facilitates a class on journal writing as a spiritual practice for women. She is an accomplished singer/songwriter in her band Bluezberry Jam, and sings locally in several groups including the hospice choir, Harbour Singers, that sings for those at end-of-life. She is a teacher of “Creative Songwriting” at conferences and adult ed., and conducts music workshops called “Sacred Sounds and Song” for My Sister’s Keeper, a mentoring program for incarcerated (and recently released) women to help them integrate back into the community. Since starting this spiritual journey, Myra has developed a practice of what she calls, Prayer Poetry that combines her talents as a wordsmith with a desire to channel Grace. She is deepening that experience of connection by continuing to be of service to her community, and challenging herself to, as she puts it, “let Spirit flow from the music of my soul.