Women and Spirituality

Women’s History month is nearly over.  The media has been doing stories on many accomplished women in a variety of fields but religion and spirituality is not including.  In an effort to rectify that, I am going to mention a few women who have done much, directly or indirectly, to aid in spiritual development over the last few decades.  Forgive me if I leave out one of your favorites, but I am just including some I can think of off the top of my head, I’m sure there are many others.

Mother Teresa
An  obvious choice, Mother Teresa, a Catholic nun, is well known all over the world for her tireless efforts to help the people of the world, especially the poor and downtrodden.  While it can be argued that it was mostly social aid such as providing food and medicine, there was also spiritual aid included.  If for nothing else, we should remember that Mother Teresa helped all who needed help regardless of their religion, nationality or sexual orientation and that is a lesson for us all.  In her own words:

I try to give to the poor people for love what the rich could get for money. No, I wouldn’t touch a leper for a thousand pounds; yet I willingly cure him for the love of God.

If you judge people, you have no time to love them.

Elaine Pagels
I doubt that professor Pagels would consider herself a spiritual teacher but her books on Gnostic scripture and early Christianity are probably the most reliable and influential in the field.

Ruth Montgomery
psychic medium and author, her books introduced many thousands to Arthur Ford and Jeane Dixon.  She founded the Association for Past Life Research and Therapy.  Her books and newspaper articles were so influential in the 1970’s that she has been referred to as the Herald of the New Age.

Jeane Dixon
Probably the most famous psychic of the seventies, she was consulted by congressmen, presidents, and corporate leaders.  She is probably best known for warning JFK to cancel his trip to Dallas, which he didn’t do and was assassinated.

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Confessing

In some major churches, members are expected to confess their sins to a priest or minister, either on a regular schedule or when they feel they need to.   Unless the rules have changed recently, I believe the Catholic church requires you to confess your sins, even minor ones, before you can receive communion.  In the International Community of Christ, priests and ministers do not hear confession, except in the sense of providing counsel to members who request it, because we don’t believe that a priest or minister can forgive sins, only God can do that.  I do think, however, that it is often good for people to confess their sins, or wrongdoings if you don’t like the word sin, for two reasons.  One, holding it in can cause psychological problems that can lead to physical problems (studies have shown that people who feel guilty about something have weakened immune systems) when allowed to fester.  Second, when you tell someone else, their reaction will usually show you that the terrible thing you think you did was not as bad as you think and you should forgive yourself as God forgives you if you are truly repentant (there are exceptions, of course, but I don’t think murderers or rapists are likely to be reading this blog).   That doesn’t mean there are no consequences for out actions, but none of us is perfect, we all make mistakes, we need to accept it, accept the consequences, forgive ourselfs, avoid the same mistake in the future, and move on with our lives.

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Judging a Book by it’s Cover

    My favorite example of judging a book by it’s cover from my own experience occurred several years ago.  It was on a Saturday and I had been working in my yard planting flowers while I waited until it was time to go to the store.  My TV had broke so I needed a new one.  So, after working in the yard,  I went to Circuit City dressed in dirty jeans and an old sweatshirt.  As I walked into the store, a young women entered behind me dresses like she was headed to an embassy cocktail party.  Several salespeople came running, passed me, and all wanted to help the young lady.  She bought a package of two blank tape cassettes for 99 cents.  I bought a $350  television.
    Another of my personal experiences with this phenomena was in the work environment.  Some ten or twelve years ago, I was on a computer services project in downtown Washington, DC.  We had one young guy, a recent college graduate, who always dressed like a CEO of a corporation.  When he showed up for a job interview, perfectly groomed, with expensive designer suits, and the ability to dazzle the interviewers with his speech, he always got hired.  It took about three months for our boss to realize he was totally incompetent.  He may have had the degree and the look, but he could not apply the knowledge.  I’m sure though that he had no problem getting hired when he went out for another interview.
    I’m sure if most of us had met Gandhi, St. Francis or Jesus when they were alive, most of us would have given them no more attention than a homeless guy sleeping on a park bench.  The classic mistake of judging by appearances rather than content.

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Healing Herbs: Burdock

    Burdock is considered by most herbalists to be nature’s best  blood purifier.  Internally, it helps to detoxify and rid the body of excess water.  It is also used to ease pain caused by arthritis, rheumatism, lumbago and back ache.
Externally, it is used for a variety of skin irritations including psoriasis, canker soars, acne and eczema.  Chinese natural healers mix burdock with other herbs to treat colds, flu, measles, sore throat and tonsillitis.  Some herbologists use burdock to treat some cancers but it has not been scientifically tested to verify it’s effectiveness for cancer treatment.  It is, however, an ingredient in two well known herbal cancer treatments: Essiac and Hoxsey’s Cancer treatment.  Bur oil, which is made from burdock root, is popular in Europe as a scalp treatment, hair conditioner, and to fight dandruff.  Some Native American tribes used it to treat venereal disease.
In Japan, burdock is eaten as a vegetable and is high in vitamins.
    Burdock grows wild in much of Europe and North America.

    An interesting fact about Burdock is that it served as the model for velcro.  Swiss inventor George de Mestral was curious how the seeds clung to his clothes so he looked at one under a microscope.  The hook and loop system they use was used to create velcro.

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