Friday, November 22, 2013

A Real Thanksgiving Hero

After his parents divorced in September of 1985, Scott Macauley of Melrose, Massachsetts, found himself in a quandary -- which parent was he going to celebrate with on Thanksgiving? So he decided that he wanted to cook his own Thanksgiving dinner. With one twist: he put an ad in the local paper: if people found themselves alone on the holiday, they could come to his house.

"Thanksgiving is not about or fireworks or hoopla. It's a meal around a table where you give thanks for the blessings you have and you really can't do that by yourself and have much fun."

A few people responded to the ad, and Macauley was delighted tht he did a decent job making dinner.

He has done the same thing every year since 1985. Last year, there were 84 people who attended. Macauley's community Thanksgiving -- which is now situated at a local church -- draws a wide range of people: new people in town, people recently divorced or widowed. He's had people who can't speak English. He's had poor people and people who are in AA.  He always feeds the local firefighters and police, too.

A couple years back, a woman with Parkinson's who had been in a nursing home for seven years, and who had never been out, hired an ambulance at $200 to bring her to the dinner. She cried when the ambulance came back to get her. She didn't want to return to the nursing home.

Macauley says that most of the people he feeds on Thanksgiving don't know who he is.

"They know that there's some skinny guy in the kitchen, but they don't my name. I think the theme of my life, and everything I do, could be summed up with the name of an old hymn called "Brighten the Corner Where You Are." I hope my legacy will be that I came into the world, I brightened the corner, and then I quietly left the world unnoticed."

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Breathing Light, Feeling Love

Recently one of my meditation teachers suggested that I try heart-centered meditation.

"The Source of all Being is in your heart," she said.  "Imagine that with every breath, there's a flame or golden light that grows brighter."

So I did that. And then I did something else she recommended. She told me to focus on the feeling of love. "Imagine the purist love you can possibly imagine," she said.

"By breathing into the heart, and focusing on love, you will feel your heart grow warm. Just keep breathing and let the lightllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll fill your whole bodddddddddddy."

So I tried it this morning, and something delightful happened. My chest indeed grew warm. Even now, several minutes after I blew out the flame of my candle, my heart still feels as though it is comforted in billowy golden pillows of light.  A feeling that is quietly pulsing.

There is so much warmth spilling out of my heart that my whole body feels like it is glowing. And then I remembered something else my meditation teacher said: "Focusing on your heart, you will get to a Divine source of Being, and infinite Source of Love and Light filling you up."

Incredible, how amazing this feeling is. My heart feels as though it is a flame and it is sending heat up through my neck and arms, and downward to the bottom of my lungs.

What's next? What will happen the next time I meditate?

And what about this connection between Light and Love? And why is it that in the first sentence of the the Bible, "God said, Let there be Light; and there was Light. God saw that the light was good..."

And why is it that there is nothing that travels faster than the speed of light? What is that all about? Here is what the physicists say.

But today I am happier with the explanation my meditation teacher has provided. I'd suggest you try this kind of meditation. Focusing on your heart is way more comforting than simply watching your breath. At least it is for me...

More later!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What Miracles Are These?

Yesterday I happened to be watching a couple of wonderful animated videos on human fetal development.

The first video showed billions of sperm
racing toward the egg as part of conception.

A later video showed the
billions of neurons that form in a baby's brain.

I had the same reaction to both images. While the numbers of sperm and neurons aren't exactly infinite, for all practical purposes they seem endless. And for that reason, they fascinate me. They overwhelm my imagination!

Then it hit me: I have those very same feelings when I am outdoors staring into
a dark sky, a sky filled with billions of twinkling stars, a sky that seems to have no limit.

How amazing are these neurons, these sperm, these stars.

One might even call them miracles.

And that got me thinking about A Course in MiraclesIn chapter one of the book, "a self-study curriculum which aims to assist the reachers in achieving spiritual transformation," the book lays out the principles of miracles.

One of those principles is this: "Miracles as such do not matter. The only thing that matters is their Source, which is far beyond evaluation."

Friday, November 01, 2013

Republicans and Their Fear-Mongering

"If You Like Your Health Insurance, You Can Keep It"

By Richard Kirsch 

When President Obama told Americans "if you like your health insurance you can keep it," he was exaggerating slightly. He did that in order to counteract Republican fear-mongering and provide more and better health coverage to all Americans.

There are good reasons why President Obama’s leading message on health care during the 2008 campaign, often repeated since, was “if you like your health insurance, you can keep it.” That message was created to overcome the fear-mongering that had blocked legislative efforts to make health care a government-guaranteed right in the United States for a century.
Our health is of central importance to our lives, deeply personal to our well-being and those of our loved ones. That concern has translated politically; for decades, people have told pollsters that health care is a top concern. It is why every 15 to 20 years – from 1912 to 2008 – the nation has returned to a discussion about whether and how the government should guarantee health coverage, the debate rising phoenix-like from one spectacular defeat after another. A big reason for those defeats has been that opponents have exploited those deep feelings to scare the public about proposed reforms.
As one of the people who engaged early on in building the effort that led to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, I am keenly aware of this history. I wrote in 2003 that debates over health care turn dramatically when they move from the problem to the solution. Almost everyone agrees there’s a problem, but when a solution is proposed, people’s first question will be, “how will it impact me?”
The extensive public opinion research we conducted from 2006 to 2008 emphasized that same point: people would look closely at how any proposed reforms impacted their lives. Yes, Americans are worried about high health care costs and alarmed at the prospect of losing coverage. Yes, they may be unhappy with the quality and security of the coverage they have. But at the same time, they are desperate to hold on to it, because at least it’s something.   
We also knew that those who wanted to block health care reform would play on people’s fears, a lesson learned most recently in the 1993-1994 fight over the Clinton health plan, in which opponents made wild claims about government bureaucrats coming between you and your doctor and denying you coverage.
In that context, it was essential to assure the 85 percent of Americans with health coverage that reform would not be a threat. Hence, “If you like your health care, you can keep it.” That message reassured people and let them be open to the rest of the message: proposed reforms would guarantee quality, affordable coverage to everyone and fix the real problems people were facing. After all, the first part of that sentence, "if you like it," implies that lots of people would love to improve their coverage by making it more affordable and secure and by ending insurance company abuses.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign understood this early on, and she used the message consistently when she talked about health care reform during the Democratic primaries. Soon after she dropped out, Obama made it a key part of his health care message. But the promise that you could keep your health care was more than just a message; for almost everyone, it was an accurate description of the almost identical reform policies proposed by Clinton and Obama, which became the foundation for the Affordable Care Act.
The ACA preserves (with small but important improvements) the current system of health care financing for the vast majority of Americans: employer-based coverage, Medicare, and Medicaid. Those are the 94 percent of people with coverage for whom the “if you like it, you can keep it” promise is true.
For the 6 percent of insured who buy coverage on their own, the more accurate message would have been, “If you have good insurance and you like it, you can keep it.” The ACA reforms a corrupt individual insurance market. No longer can insurers turn people down due to a pre-existing condition or raise rates and drop people because they get sick. The ACA bans the sale of plans with such skimpy benefits and high-out-of-pockets costs that they are worthless if someone gets seriously ill.
As we predicted, the opponents of reform used fear-mongering – death panels, government takeover of health care, and on and on – to try to kill the Affordable Care Act. They are still at it, including cynically jumping on the website’s enrollment problems and now insurance companies sending letters to customers which hide the fact that companies are being forced for the first time to sell a good, reliable product.
The opponents of reform have used reckless, baseless charges to try to kill reform. I’m glad that President Obama used a slight exaggeration to finally provide secure health coverage for all Americans.
Richard Kirsch is a Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, a Senior Adviser to USAction, and the author of Fighting for Our Health. He was National Campaign Manager of Health Care for America Now during the legislative battle to pass reform. This piece is cross-posted with Roosevelt Institute's blog, Next New Deal.