Sunday, February 11, 2018


"This world of ours with lush offerings abound.
Where astounding ways to soothe the soul can be found.
What a wonder to behold!
On it's beauty I am sold.
Caught up in this lure, I let my spirit soar.

As my heart beats for more
Thoughts of love and sweet music fill my mind.
With eyes wide open, I jump for joy
Grateful that we live in a world where blessings flow."
Marvelous World - psw

"Where next?" The travel genie asked and I responded.  There I was landing in Ben Guenon Airport, Israel with sixty-nine travel companions from two church parishes in Nassau County, USA, ready to start a spiritual journey to the Holy Land.
We began our exploration of this tiny nation and experienced Israel's diverse religious heritage, visiting sites steeped in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  I must ask you to bear with me  as I trace our voyage through multicultural traditions and the ruins of ancient civilizations.  The tales are too detailed to recount here but you will get a taste that is enough to push your curiosity button to make you want to take a visit or do more research on the places and incidents mentioned.

We began our tour from the town of Netayana where we stayed overnight.  A walk to the shores of the Mediterranean sea brought out a WOW from my lips, a majestical view indeed. Our venture took us to Caesarea, an ancient landscape, where if you listen carefully, you can hear the victorious shouts of the gladiators.  Along the way we stopped in the Roman amphitheater to watch a film on the Roman period. It showed the heyday, when the gladiator games and chariot racing were held.

Off to Tiberius we went, where we cruise on the Sea of Galilee and Capernaum.  This is the place believed to be the site of Jesus' sermon on the mount. Our visit to Tabgha, believed to be the site of the miracles of the loaves and fishes,one of my favorite scripture story. The mount of the beatitudes where Jesus preached the famous sermon and chose the twelve apostles was one of our stop.  At Cana, the site of Jesus first miracle of turning water into wine. Here Twenty-two couples from our group renewed their vows.  At Mt. Tabor, we visited the traditional site of the transfiguration.  We made our way to Nazareth the boyhood home of Jesus and visited the Church of Annunciation.

Our tour continued to the archaeological ruins of Megiddo, which is labeled a UNESCO world heritage site.  Our tour spoke about the Druze culture, which was new to me and pointed out women on the street who by their dressing could be identified as a Druze.  He described them as people who preferred living in the mountains.  The many wonders and sites continued and we headed to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem.  We visited the western wall and asked for blessings for many by poking our pieces of paper with their names in any space available on the wall.

The Dead Sea is described as the deepest hyper saline lake in the world and is fed by the River Jordan, which flows from the Sea of Galilee.  Many of our travelers came prepared with their swimsuits and floated on their back in the Dead Sea. I had already experienced this phenomenon on a previous visit and this time only placed my feet in to enjoy the mud slide.

What is a pilgrimage without shopping for the religious artifacts, crosses, rosaries, images of Mary, mother of Jesus, Jesus himself; you name it, numerous biblical figures lined the shelves of the local market, made out of authentic olive wood, they touted.

I ate a lot of crisp falafel and as a vegetarian, the cuisine was enticing.  Thanks to the guides whose regional expertise shone in their commentary. This journey is indeed memorable, Israel's captivating and unique culture, bargaining with the street vendors, strolling the cobbled alleyways, descending below sea level, renewing our baptism at the River Jordan, strolling into the Palestinian section, lingering in Jericho, celebrating masses in these significant churches, a delight even from the sighting of the sycamore trees, walking in beautiful gardens with varied plants and age old olive trees,plus all the other things we participated in gave me a deep insight into this region.
What a privilege to have been immersed in the enactment of biblical passages.

Chop, chop! Sholom! Yalla! are words that keep ringing in my ears, learned from the pleasant yelling of our tour guides. I will be ready to say "yalla"(let's go) to experience another region in this marvelous world of ours.

Saturday, January 20, 2018


                                            "Help me to help them was the cry.
                                              And you all came running, banding
                                              together for a kinder world."

The small quarters worried me when I arrived for the fundraising brunch for the Choose To Care(CTC) organization.  I gave the butterflies a second to play havoc in my stomach and quickly flipped the "this is not going to work" button to "we have to make it work."  It was time to make lemonade out of lemon.

The dear folks came in and took their position and I no longer saw tight space.  I am of the belief that there is enough space for everyone on this amazing earth, if we just shift over a little.  This movement is about showing kindness, recognizing that someone could use a helping hand. This profound message was literally playing out before my eyes; the place seemed to have magically widened.  As old and new acquaintances began to arrive, the room was buzzing with excitement.  Each person had carved out their niche and I could feel my worry lines fading away, my face was relaxed as I scanned the room, feeling satisfied.  The revelers were settling in waiting for a bite.

I told the story of CTC and it's humble beginning and although it was delivered in a nutshell, I am sure they understood my passion and commitment to carry out the mission to provide the children in need with a brand new pair of shoes.  I am also revved up about establishing a healthy pathway for the kids and their families and at each and every gathering to continue to encourage the kids and their families to be caretakers of this wonderful world we live in; starting with the community where they call home. Later on while viewing some photos, I laughed at how the depth of my feelings was captured when I told my story; by my expressions my inhibitions of facing the crowd seemed to have disappeared as I poured out my soul. The onlookers were also at attention, listening to my simple words, that told my reasons for serving these precious kids.

                                               "How can a Title less creature be of help,
                                                I keep asking myself.
                                                This is the work of the famous
                                                 But I know better and I begin once again,
                                                 that unfinished job."

It was heartwarming to hear a representative from an organization that serves the children of Haiti spoke about what it meant to be able to distribute a brand new pair of shoes to children so they can walk to school without getting cuts on their feet. She told the story of a young woman who thanked her for a pair of shoes, she received over three years ago that allowed her to travel to college to become a teacher. This my dear friends is what we describe as "happy feet"  Oh, the power of a brand new pair of shoes.

How fitting it was that so many kind folks came out to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther  King.  It is he who said:

                                                  "Life's most persistent and urgent question,
                                                    is what are you doing for others."
My hope is that you will go where your heart leads you to be of service to others.

Thanks to the hands that prepared such great tasting food, as many reached for more helpings, there were words of praises for this scrumptious meal.  As I began to reflect, the space that seemed so small at first ,widened to fit everyone;  there were drinks and food to satisfy thirst and hunger. I did not hear any grumbling and connections were made. If anything was out of sorts, it was promptly amended. Indeed, we made lemonade out of lemon.

And for me, a little extra came my way from a girl scout leader in California who shared with me via e-mail that her troop, in order to earn their "staying fit badges" have to learn how to be their best healthy self.  She said she had been helping them research all about healthy eating habits, exercising and managing stress.  They came across health information in a blog posted on CTC's website which really helped the girls and she wanted to say thanks.  She shared a link that she thought would help others also:  This is icing on the cake, never underestimate the impact you can make in this world, no matter how small.

"I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart"
Vincent Van Gogh

Kindness begets kindness. Your presence and assistance were greatly appreciated.
Wishing you many more.