Greetings dear ones,
May the blessing of
light be on you, light without and light within.
May the blessed
sunlight shine upon you and warm your heart till it glows,
Like a great peat
fire, so that the stranger may come
and warm himself at
it, as well as the friend.
And may the light
shine out of the eyes of you,
like a candle set in
the windows of a house,
Bidding the wanderer
to come in out of the storm.
(From a traditional Irish blessing.)
As I look back upon the past year and reflect on what I want
to share with you at the dawn of 2014, there are two things that stand out for
me. This year brought Sadananda and myself the extraordinarily grace-full
experience of our Celtic journey through England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland,
culminating in our pilgrimage to the Sacred Isle of Iona in the Hebrides. The
place where the great Saint Columcille or Columba made his home, Iona has been Scotland's
most sacred spot for more than fifteen centuries and still possesses an extraordinary
aura of peace and serenity.
This was also the year when I was not just a compassionate
witness of world news, but also one who lived through devastating and
overwhelming events heard around the world--the Colorado Flood Disaster, which
inundated Boulder County, sweeping away entire mountain towns and damaging
thousands of buildings, including Alandi Ashram. Recovery efforts are ongoing
still, both countywide and at the ashram.
There is an underlying thread that links these experiences,
so different in emotional tone. The Celtic way is one of harmony with the
earth, the elements and the cycles and seasons of nature. In the sacred spaces
of cliff and mountain, shore and turf--wild and rugged places lashed by wind and
rain--the beauty of sunrise and sunset, dusk and starlight, heather and
meadowsweet, the grating cry of the corncrake and the otherworldly moans of
Manx shearwater are received with reverence and awe. Beauty suffuses the
harshness of these spaces at the edge of the world, calling forth myth, song
and story and awakening the heart to other dimensions of being. For the Celts,
nature was not a force to be tamed and dominated but a sacred text to be read,
learnt and lived.
And for us in Boulder the untamable wildness at the heart of
nature made itself felt as the earth cleansed herself in a roar of waters. We
the privileged, the comfortable, were humbled in the face of a force that could
not be contained and that overturned our lives within minutes. At such times,
we can only remember that we do not own the Earth, we are her guests, living
upon her at her pleasure.
May the blessing of
the rain be on you - the soft sweet rain.
May it fall upon your
spirit so that all the little flowers may spring up,
And shed their
sweetness on the air.
And may the blessing
of the great rains be on you,
that they beat upon
your spirit and wash it fair and clean,
and leave there many a
shining pool, and sometimes a star.
While we struggled to reclaim our lives after the disaster
in Boulder County, wild weather events continued around the world at an
unprecedented rate. The worst storm ever to make landfall hit poor and
vulnerable people in the Philippines. Tens of thousands were evacuated in
Britain as one Atlantic storm after another came roaring in. As I write today
from Wales, a series of severe storms throughout the past two weeks have brought
flooding, fallen trees, power failures and tidal surges. Meanwhile Minnesota is
anticipating the coldest temperatures it has ever known. The climate is
destabilizing faster than we could have imagined. Five hundred year events are
the new normal. Each storm brings an invitation to radical change in a way of
life that is rendering our beautiful home a hostile place for humans and
As the year drew to a close, I became once more a
participant in tragic news. The school shooting that occurred on 13th
December took place not just in Colorado, but at Arapahoe High School, the school
our nephew attends and from which our niece recently graduated. Like the floods, the shooting was a reminder
that disturbing events don't just happen to other people. We are all
participants in a culture disconnected from nature and from our own hearts.
Although stricter gun controls would undoubtedly help make events of this kind less
likely, such legislation does not address the deepest cause or offer the most
A year after the terrible school shooting in Newtown,
Connecticut, local Rabbi Shaul Praver spoke eloquently of the one effective
remedy for violence and the wounds of violence--loving-kindness. "We have found
the cure for the social disease of violence, hatred and bigotry, and that cure
is good old-fashioned loving kindness. When everyone practices that it does
change the atmosphere of a room, of a town, of a community, of a state and a
country. And so, it is not of only local value, but it is of universal value."
I invite all of us to
dedicate 2014 to loving-kindness--the wish that all beings be happy. For a few
minutes each day, let us breathe in 'May I be happy,' drawing warmth into every
cell. And let us breathe out 'May all beings be happy' radiating warmth to all
humans, animals and plants.
And may the blessing
of the earth be on you - the great round earth;
May you ever have a
kindly greeting for people you pass
as you are going along
And now may the Lord
bless you, and bless you kindly.
Wishing you a joyous New Year and peace and prosperity during
With my love and blessings always