In her article “We wear our words,” posted to her blog A Thousand Bits of Paper, Australian poet and storyteller Kate Duff reminds us that the words we use matter and calls on us to pay attention to the words we surround ourselves with.
What words do you live by? What words do you allow to accompany you in this life, and which have you erased from your experience? When you give your word, which word is it exactly and where does it spring from? Who do you allow to keep it, keep parts of you? Because our words, our personal words are like allies that we keep close, they are the chisels which we allow to carve out who we are, they are everything. Yet so few people look around and within to see what company they are keeping.
Excerpt from the article “We wear our words” by Kate Duff, posted on her blog January 30, 2022
Breaking free from the Roman Catholic Church did not happen overnight. The fear of Hell, embedded since childhood, is a powerful force. I began questioning the Church’s religious teachings and practices during my seven years in the convent. A beginners’ course in Anthropology, taken as a final year university undergraduate, led me to reconsider the nature of being human and our roles as male and female. I recall having an epiphany about the need to change the rules regarding the Church’s Sacrament of Matrimony that was out of touch with our times.
After leaving the convent, I began exploring other religions and spiritual teachings in search of a more expansive vision of The Divine. Having grown up among Hindus, I was aware that they believe in reincarnation after death. The Buddhists, too, I discovered, also embrace reincarnation. The thought of being born again in what I’ve experienced as a violent and unjust world did not appeal to me.
During the year I worked at the University of Guyana Library, a librarian recommended that I read Reincarnation & Karma by Edgar Cayce (1877-1945). The American psychic struck me as authentic. Instead of condemnation to Hell for eternity, reincarnation gives our soul several chances to make up for mistakes made, wrongs committed. Justice beyond the grave. I began looking at my life and our world with different lenses. Who did I wrong or hurt in past lives?
I was pregnant with our second child when my husband and I joined the Transcendental Meditation (TM) movement started by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India. Since receiving my mantra from our certified Guyanese TM teacher, I continue to practice the daily mantra meditation. With varying degrees of success over the years, I have used the technique not only as a form of awareness and stress relief, but also to access a higher state of consciousness.
My break with the Catholic Church occurred about a year and a half after we migrated to Brazil. That’s about ten years after leaving the convent. South America’s largest country and economy also held the top-ranking position as the country with the world’s largest Catholic population. The poverty I witnessed every day on the streets of Fortaleza, capital of the Northeastern State of Ceará, shocked me. Though Guyana was numbered among the poorest countries on the continent, I had never seen hordes of children, including toddlers, roaming the streets in search of food. Where was the Catholic Church? What were they doing to address the poverty and destitution in their midst?
You give but little when you give of your possessions. / It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. // There are those who give little of the much which they have—and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome. / And there are those who have little and give it all. / These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty. // All you have shall some day be given; / Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors’.
Excerpt from “On Giving” from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, first published 1923, reprinted edition by Alfred A Knopf, New York, USA, 2005.
Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931), a poet, philosopher, and artist, was born in Lebanon. At twelve years old, he migrated to the United States with his mother and siblings. The Prophet, written in English, is Gibran’s masterpiece and has become one of the beloved classics of our time. It is considered an expression of the deepest impulses of the human heart and mind.