Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Happy Birthday Matthew

 


Happy Birthday Matthew!

Happy Birthday Matthew!

You’ve certainly brought much joy to our lives.

I remembered when your mom discovered she was pregnant.

It was surely a delightful day.

 

We attended Lamaze classes at Norfolk General Hospital

This was surely the way to do things right

But our instructor was patient

Getting your mom to the hospital as your great uncle was visiting was a challenge

But it all worked out well when you came into the world in the early hours of the morning on August 12, 1981

 

Surely your birth was a momentous occasion in our lives

As our only son, it felt like Christmas that August and months later

But raising you was challenging

I remembered the many feedings and diaper changes, kindergarten school, little league basketball games, field trips, and classes in Middle School

But by the time you were in High School you were responsible – working at Farmer Jack and learning to drive

Your adventures at James Madison University, and John Hopkins in Genetic Counseling, plus travels to Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago enthralled us

How much you’ve grown from these experiences

 

At college you navigated the dating scene

You met your soul-mate Shannon Mabry who you married

This was an extraordinary and fun wedding in Charlottesville, Virginia

Where you and Shannon have careers to this day

On this your 39th birthday, you’ve both been a great blessing to us!

 

“God, continue to bless Matthew on his 39th birthday.  May he continue to develop to his full potential! And bless his wife Shannon so that their lives will prosper.  These blessings we pray that you grant us.”

Amen

@ https://www.bestprimalessence.com (Dfurstane) Website       


Monday, August 10, 2020

The Happiness of Flowers

 


The Happiness of Flowers

It’s happiness when flowers bloom.

They reveal themselves beautifully.

Look at their radiance

As they appear in shades of colors -

White, blue, red, green, and yellow

These are carnations, bellflowers, roses, clovers, and daisies

How glorious these flowers are to wondering eyes

 

It’s one thing to talk about flowers’ beauty

But it’s another to be captivated by their fragrance

Undoubtedly their effusive scents bring joy

And attract butterflies and bees

As they welcome their majestic ways

 

These flowers adorn our local gardens

Many gardeners embrace them as a labor of love

For they decorate buildings and notable sites of interest

People display flowers on happy occasions

Like weddings, birthdays, and anniversaries

These beauties are also the center of attraction in sacred places

Especially churches, mosques, temples, and synagogues

So let us give thanks for the happiness of flowers

And the warmth and blessings they bring

 

“Eternal Wisdom let us adorn our homes and delight in the splendor of flowers.  Help us to rejoice and be glad about flowers’ importance in our lives.  For such blessings we ask of your Providence.”

Amen

@ https://www.bestprimalessence.com (Dfurstane) Website

 

 

 

 

 


Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Sunlit Streams of Water




Sunlit Streams of Water 

Sunlit Streams of Water is a devotional that celebrates religious naturalism.  This book captures the symbolism of “sunlight,” “streams,” and “water.”  Its themes represent the life, energy, power, and rebirth shown in the sun.  Sunlight appears as the completion of the Creator’s great work.  Streams declare the passage of time, while water is the new birth as it flows into the vast oceans of life.  Much of this symbolism shows a pathway to our hearts.  But water itself represents not only birth, but also fertility, and refreshment.  It symbolizes life itself, and is used for purification and healing, alleviation of suffering, and redemption.  In Christianity it’s the symbol of baptism while the Holy Spirit is often depicted as celestial fire.  But to a religious naturalist nature in all its manifestations – sky, moon, stars, mountains, hills, valleys, trees, flora and fauna are Holy.  Scientific inquiry and the arts are prerequisites on which all reality is best interpreted.

Belief in Religious Naturalism
The author’s beliefs are a testimony to Transcendentalism with a faith in nature. In this treatise nature is paramount in people’s lives. Natural phenomena always played a vital role. Every aspect of nature is important to mankind’s thinking and actions.  Our mind, body, and soul are guided by nature. People shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that nature was separate from them, for they are intricately interrelated with its soul. Nature’s beauty is blended with all natural gifts.  “Nature is All in All,” and embraces every aspect of life.

To embrace the All in All is having an appreciation of the Creator’s manifestations.  The heavenly bodies - the sun, moon, and stars, known and unknown planets traversing the sky are phenomenal.  The trees, plants, oceans, rivers, streams, mountains, hills and valleys speak in their own language while buffeted by the wind.  So are the seasons – spring, summer, autumn, and winter with their distinct moods.  Sometimes it’s calm, beautiful, and glorious. Occasionally there are hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, and forest fires.

But birds, reptiles, fishes, and animals of all sorts inhabit the earth living in the air, land, or sea.  They breed, feed, and exist in an unpredictable reality.  These creatures are provided for by nature.  People breathe fresh air, pick fruits, feast on delicious foods, and drink refreshing water; build cozy houses from trees, light fires to cook meals, and dress warmly in winter months with nature’s bounty.
These manifestations are only a part of the Eternal Essence that’s within, above, below, and around us.  To personalize such an Essence is only a metaphor.  It, S/he is omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, immanent, and Transcendent.  No words could adequately describe the sum of this all-encompassing Reality.
@ https://www.bestprimalessence.com (Dfurstane) Website

Friday, July 24, 2020

The Lost Art of Scripture




The Lost Art of Scripture 

Karen Armstrong’s The Lost Art of Scripture analyzes scripture from the major religions of the world.  By so doing she discussed the concept of God.  Is God immanent, omniscient, and omnipotent?  Certainly, God is infinite and beyond description.  The human concept of God is quite limited.  Our definition of this Ultimate Presence humankind can’t begin to comprehend.  It’s as though God doesn’t even exist.  People can’t begin to define this Reality.

Another interesting aspect of Armstrong’s work is the recognition that all faith traditions e.g., Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, and indigenous religious, all profess the major tenet of the Golden Rule.  People ought to do unto others as they wish to be done to themselves.  These faiths uphold the tradition of how to live compassionately in the world.
Throughout the text Armstrong stresses the tension that exists between a right and left brain dichotomy.  The right brain is myth - poetry, and music.  Ancient scripture was transmitted orally.  It was dramatized, and acted out for groups.  In the past there weren’t books or scriptural sources like the canons that were recorded later.  Eventually scripture was codified, no longer was it only to be committed to memory.  The Quran itself means “recitation.”  When Muhammad received these sutras he was told to recite them.  It was long after his death that these same sutras were recalled, and formed the basis of the Islamic cannon.

As for the right brain there were ramifications that didn’t sit too well.  By the 18th century the emphasis was on rational thinking.  Religious critics began looking at the discoveries in science as a way of interpreting scripture.  Many of the scientific humanists saw scripture as untrue.  Their myths were considered falsehoods.  These critics concluded the stories of the Hebrew bible and the Quran were untrue and ought to be dismissed.  But Armstrong pointed out that myths and science have different roles in our understanding.  These approaches accomplish special goals.  That’s why Armstrong explained that some theologians brought understanding to myths through midrash.  Verses are often strung together to give them meaning.  That’s why it’s necessary when reading scripture theologians and lay readers alike should take a holistic approach to find its meaning.         

Monday, July 20, 2020

One's Own Bias




One’s Own Bias

Imagine our beliefs
They may make sense to us
But they are only our perspectives
They can be personal, culturally based
But still they are impractical

Many of us are carried away by our emotions
We cry, laugh, and cheer
About situations that touch us deeply
But why are we this way?
It’s because we are emotional beings

Many of our tastes are based on our desires
Why do we long for certain things?
These could be a whim, a fancy,
Something that pops up
And just sweeps us off of our feet

Yet such a feeling could be triggered
By a beautiful sunrise in the sky
That touches us deeply
But all of this depends on our taste,
Our mental attitude, and it’s very personal

“God, help us realize that we have personal biases that are subjective.  Let us be aware of these feelings, but enable us to know that they aren’t necessarily true.”
Amen
@ https://www.bestprimalessence.com (Dfurstane) Website

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Hail to the Sun!





Hail to the Sun!

Sunlight glitters
It’s reflected from water
Shimmering in streams
Making summer surreal

O what a beautiful sun!
That warms our hearts
Making plants grow
And gracing us with its presence

The sun is like a generator
It heats up the atmosphere
Thrilling us with its brilliance
And enlivens our lives

O the sun is a ubiquitous light
That makes us happy in the summer
Even when it’s hot and sticky
Yes, people simply love sunlight
Its beams generate life
Affects our mood
And we can’t hide from it

The sun is good for health reasons
But still people have to be careful
For they could get sunburn
And later develop skin cancer
So be sure to use sun screen
When strolling outside this summer

“Good God, thank you for the blessing of sunlight.  Help us to enjoy its light, and make us cognizant of the precautions we ought to take while basking in this gift.”
Amen
@ https://www.bestprimalessence.com (Dfurstane) Website

Friday, July 17, 2020

The Bread of Life




The Bread of Life

Jesus gave thanks, consecrated the bread and wine, and presented his body and blood as spiritual nourishment to his apostles, and for the salvation of all (Jn. 6:53-58).  This Eucharist renews the same sacrifice Christ made upon the cross.  The ritual sacrifice under the Old Law was the sign of the covenant between God and his people.  In the New Testament the sacrifice achieves perfection through Christ.  This Eucharist is therefore celebrated as a memorial of Christ’s death, burial, resurrection, and ascension into heaven.  At the Mass Christ is sacramentally present.  He offers his sacrifice in the union with the church; for this reason we call the Eucharist the sacrifice of the church.

The Eucharist is a Sacrament

The Eucharist is a sacrament because Christ offers himself to the Father in the Mass just as he did on the cross, but the offering is made through the consecratory action of the priest.

What does the Eucharist do?

1.      Unites the recipient to Christ,
2.      Gives life - “a true food” (Jn. 6:54),
3.      Shares in the life of Christ – eternal life (Jn. 6:58; Mt. 5:23-24; Jn. 3:19-24),
4.      Builds up Christ’s mystical body – the church (1 Cor. 10:16-17; Jn. 17:2021),
5.      And serves as a heavenly banquet (1 Cor. 11:26; Mt. 26:29; Lk. 14:16; 2 Pet. 3:13).

Scott Hahn’s Catholic Bible Dictionary explained that the Eucharist is also known as the Lord’s Supper.  This is a Christian sacrament that honors the actions of Jesus at the last supper.  It is reported in all the Synoptic Gospels that Jesus took bread and blessed it (Mk. 14:22-24).  This partaking of the Eucharist is called Holy Communion.  In Greek eucharistia means “thanksgiving” - the sacrament in which Christ is really present under the appearances of bread and wine.  Other names for the Eucharist are:  Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper, the table of the Lord, the breaking of the bread, the unbloody sacrifice, our daily bread, the most blessed sacrament, the sacrifice of praise, and agape.  However the Eucharist is a sign of unity, a bond of charity, and a paschal banquet.

@ https://www.bestprimalessence.com (Dfurstane) Website
       

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Embracing Ultimate Reality




Embracing Ultimate Reality

To embrace the All in All
Is having an appreciation
Of Our Creator’s manifestations 
The heavenly bodies - the sun, moon,
And stars, known and unknown planets
Traversing the sky is phenomenal 
The trees, plants, oceans, rivers,
Streams, mountains, hills and valleys
Speak in their own language
While buffeted by the wind 
So are the seasons – spring,
Summer, autumn, and winter
With their distinct moods 
Sometimes it’s calm, serene, and glorious
Occasionally there are hurricanes,
Earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, and forest fires

But birds, reptiles, fishes, and animals of all sorts
Inhabit the earth in the air, land, and sea 
They breed, feed, and live in this Reality 
And these creatures are provided for by nature 
People breathe fresh air, pick fruits,
Feast on delicious delicacies, drink refreshing water
Build cozy houses with the wood of  trees,
Light fires to cook their meals,
And dress warmly
In the winter months with nature’s bounty.

These manifestations are only a part
Of the Eternal Essence
That’s within, above, below, and around us 
To personalize this Reality is a metaphor. 
S/he’s omniscient, omnipresent,
Omnipotent, immanent, and transcendent 
No words can adequately describe
The sum of this all-encompassing nature

“Ever living Creator, help us to appreciate nature in all its abundance.  Let us persevere in being good stewards of planet earth.”
Amen
@ https://www.bestprimalessence.com (Dfurstane) Website

Monday, July 13, 2020

The Depths of Truth




The Depths of Truth

Truth is unity that expresses itself
At micro and macro levels 
All things and beings
Are interrelated and interdependent 
This reality is fundamental
To every community, society, and culture 
So people depend on labels - book, pen, car, pig, cow,
Food, drink, ocean, lake, river, mountain, valley, house, etc; 
Dimensions – line, triangle, pyramid, cube, oblong, sphere, etc;
And dualism – true/false, long/short, happy/sad,
 Hot/cold, wet/dry, tall/short, Chinese yin/yang, etc,
 As they journey in this world 
And use their five senses –
Sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch to do so

“Ultimate Reality, help us to understand the depths of truth more fully that we may live authentic lives.”
Amen
@ https://www.bestprimalessence.com (Dfurstane) Website

Sunday, July 12, 2020

The Supreme Light




The Supreme Light

Light is a pure reality. 
It has no distractions,
And is the ultimate in fulfillment 
It symbolizes the Eternal Essence of the Universe,
And refers to the Oneness of God, Allah, Brahma, and Dao 

The teachings of faiths show
Believers ascending towards this Supreme Light 
The sacred texts, saints, gurus, priests, rabbis, and imams
Teach about love to embrace this reality. 
These themes are prominent in the Holy Scriptures, Hebrew Bible,
Talmud, Old and New Testaments, Koran,
Vedas, Upanishads, and other canonical books 

But these scriptures all refer to the Supreme Light
In uniquely different ways 
The monotheistic religions - Judaism, Christianity, and Islamic beliefs
Teach how believers could achieve eternal life in Heaven. 
Eastern faith traditions explain the role of karma –
What believers sow they will reap in the afterlife 
Their reality comes in the form of various stages of rebirth
In achieving the Oneness of Hinduism’s Brahma,
Or nirvana in Buddhism

“Ultimate Reality, help us to be guided by this all-encompassing light.  Let your light enlighten our hearts and minds.”
Amen
@ https://www.bestprimalessence.com (Dfurstane) Website     

             


Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Live with Compassion




Live with Compassion

People must love in humility.  By so doing they will find personal freedom, comforting joy, while caring for others on their spiritual journey.  These are qualitative moments because they will be embracing their true life’s calling.  With pureness of living they will be like missionaries in a flourishing garden.  Henri-Frédéric Amiel (18211881), a Swiss moral philosopher and critic said, “There is no respect for others without humility in one’s self.”  This could be achieved by having an open mind about love.  However it’s wise to live under God’s protection while engaging with others in the community.

James A. Baldwin (19241987), a novelist, essayist, and playwright wrote, “The question which one asks oneself begins, at least, to illuminate the world, and becomes one’s key to the experience to others.”  With this self-introspection people have to be free from guilt by having inner freedom.  Christians experience the joys of evangelizing and touching lives.  It’s the Holy Spirit within us as we express our God-given gifts to people.  This message is found in the abiding truths of his Word.  It bears witness to believers’ affairs as they live.

A Quiet Joy

To be faith-filled means experiencing a quiet joy.  Most Christians are happy people who show their happiness to those they meet.  They sing praises, shine forth their light, and are excited about life.  By being touched by the supernatural hand of God they have lives of abundance.  These blessings come by prayer and perseverance in their daily lives.  Albert Einstein (18791955), a German-born theoretical physicist wrote, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”  A Christian’s belief is in faith. He or she puts their thoughts in actions and works.  Aesop (620 BC564 BC), an ancient Greek fabulist said,” “Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.” Christian believers live by giving thanks, and praise to God for his blessings.

St. Teresa (19101997), a Roman Catholic religious missionary said, “Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work.”  St. Teresa and the Sisters of Charity found great joy by working with the poor.  Their mission continues to be a witness to the poor people of everyday life.  They knew human frailties and are willing to do their best to relieve suffering.  Sisters of Charity brought dignity to forgotten people, and their main focus wasn’t only the downtrodden, but exploited people.  To these sisters money and power are false idols, and their answer was to live simply.  The distribution of material wealth to the least among them mattered.  This was what they taught about compassionate living.  By performing such deeds Christians are contemplative.  Max Lucado (b. 1955), a bestselling Christian author and preacher said, “The meaning of life.  The wasted years of life.  God answers the mess of life with one word: ‘grace.’”  In the end it isn’t the dirt and squalor, deprivation, or laws, but God’s ‘grace’ that means everything.

@ https://www.bestprimalessence.com (Dfurstane) Website              

Friday, July 3, 2020

Independence Day (U.S.A)




Independence Day (U.S.A)

It’s July 4th
Let’s celebrate this special day
For it’s the day of America’s Independence
So let us be mindful
To thank God for these blessings

Sadly our beloved nation
Is impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic
There’s civil unrest
As Black Lives Matter takes to the streets
Protests have arisen over Confederate monuments
But with all these problems
Let Americans reach out compassionately
To heal these afflictions in our land

America’s Independence was first proposed
By Richard Henry Lee of Virginia
That led to the declaration of Independence from Great Britain
From that time on there were celebrations
But now with social problems in our land
People are wearing masks, practicing social distancing
And there will be limited fireworks, and gun-salutes
To commemorate this special day
But the spirit of the nation lives on

“God, continue to guide America.  Let’s glorify her achievements.  And let the nation’s universal goals embrace freedom for all – young, old, male, female, black, white, religious, and non-religious with equanimity for all people including LGBTQ+.  Regardless, let American creed, color, national origin, and beliefs help us to be beacons of hope in the world.”
Amen
@ https://www.bestprimalessence.com (Dfurstane) Website   
           

Thursday, July 2, 2020

LGBTQIA



LGBTQIA
The letters - LGBTQIA
Means Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender,
Queer or Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual or Allied
But why fuss over who they are?
In all ways they are unique
They come in the same colors –
Black, white, brown, yellow, and red
In races in every country
They live in our communities –
Towns, cities, villages, or the suburbs
Dwelling in homes, apartments, igloos, or huts
LGBTQIA enjoy similar foods –
German, Italian, Chinese, Spanish, African, or Native American
And worship in Churches, Mosques, Temples, or Synagogues
But their beliefs differ based on who they are
Still they are just as devout and patriotic
Like those who are themselves straight
So let’s stop looking only at differences
And honor our similarities
Let’s reach out with love and compassion
To those who some people tend to demonize
For LGBTQIA are born this way
And although different they have similar beliefs
God in all his wisdom
Have made them the way they are
“Divine Protector, let’s celebrate our diversity by giving thanks for your creation. Help us to live in peace with all men and women in the world.”
Amen
@ https://www.bestprimalessence.com (Dfurstane) Website

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Discussing Race Relations with Our Son Matthew





Discussing Race Relations with Our Son Matthew

Your mom and I appreciate having the opportunity in discussing race relations in America.  One thing you said that triggered this note that I must clarify.  It was in reference to my statement that I got jobs because I was black.

Saying this I don't mean to imply that my positions at universities were any way inferior to whites or other races.  I work hard studying at the universities I attended.  I earned my degrees like everyone else.  I recognized that I was competing with many other brilliant students.  Some were more talented than me.  Nevertheless I always had a good self esteem.  I considered being black a gift, and was happy that I was born in Georgetown, Guyana.

In America I was considered a foreign black.  This designation was never derogatory to me.  I was always proud of my heritage.  You see I came to America at the right time.  Barriers were being broken down in the 1960’s with the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War.  It was at a crucial time and the place to be, and your mother and I greatly benefited from these changes.  Rest assured that we were protected by living mainly in campus communities where students were more liberal.
But your mother and I always thought about our future, and we found our dream in living lives as educators.  We also had many good friends that were always willing to support us.  So undoubtedly living in the United States was a great blessing.  We never did anything stupid since we were an interracial couple.  This was so wherever we lived whether it was in Eugene, New York City, Oswego, Milwaukee, Columbia, or Virginia Beach.

In spite of the civil rights unrest that raised its head throughout these 50 years of our marriage we were still able to persevere and live safely.  Our only real difficulty was when I suffered from manic depression that nearly cost our marriage.  But all in all we have always empathized with the poor and downtrodden.  Your mom does a great deal of charitable work that I admire.  To this day every month I send hundreds of dollars to help out my family members in Guyana.  As I have said that in the time of crises we could only do so much.  All of us have to play our part in making this world better.  Thanks for all you and Shannon are doing.  Keep up your work for greater social change so that all lives in this nation would continue to improve.  God bless!
@ https://www.bestprimalessence.com  (Dfurstane) Website

Friday, June 26, 2020

Holy, but Dirty Water




Holy, but Dirty Water

Holy, but dirty water might kill religious believers
When they emerge themselves
In the Jordan River to be baptized
Or, take a dip in the Ganges River
As part of their ceremonial rite

Many people might be unaware
That these waters are polluted
They are filled with human waste, and chemicals
From agricultural and industrial products
This is the case of the Jordan River
That flows southward through northern Israel
Where Jesus Christ was baptized by John the Baptist

The same is true for India’s Ganges River
That flows from the Himalayas
Where there’s raw sewage,
And remains of cremated corpses,
Chemical dyes from tanneries,
And animal carcasses
Yet Hindus fulfill their religious duties
For ritual purity, by emerging themselves in these waters

Infectious diseases could be spread
Through such contaminated waters
Like typhoid, cholera, paratyphoid fever,
Dysentery, jaundice, and malaria,
By chemicals, pesticides, nitrates, lead, and arsenic
These pollutants are all dangerous
To our nervous system and could even cause cancer

“Eternal One, help believers to be wise by safeguarding their health for God might bless them, but not prevent illness, or death.”
Amen
@ https://www.bestprimalessence.com (Dfurstane) Website    


Saturday, June 20, 2020

Father's Day Blessing




Father’s Day Blessing

Holy Spirit guide our dads
That they may always do
What’s right in your sight!
Keep them safe
As they go about their daily lives
So that they may be at peace

Help them as parents of their children
And good husbands to their wives
Give them wisdom and understanding
To know what’s best in these troubling times
Comfort them and walk with them
All the days of their lives

Universal Spirit, you who makes no distinction
Of race, color, or creed
Be with our dads in every home
Help them to be good mentors in their families
Teach them how to take criticism
When their efforts fall short
As dads, grand-dads, and great grand-dads

Bless and keep our dads
Universal Spirit, walk with them
Talk with them
And guide them
To be good leaders of their families,
Community and nation

“Eternal Presence by the grace of God, watch over our dads.  Lift them up to be the best dads, grand-dads, and great grand-dads that they can be.  For these blessings we pray.”
Amen
@ https://www.bestprimalessence.com (Dfurstane) Website