Monday, November 25, 2013

'From Cha Cha to Chaplaincy', a work in progress

*(work in progress)

A small path leads from the pastor's office in the church hall through a grassy area towards the entrance of the white country church. The church bells rang. The minister's cassock caught in his steps as he walked quickly through the doors, down the aisle and towards the pulpit. He looked out at the congregation. Seeing smiling and curious faces, he said 'Good Morning Everyone'.


Oh no! That was me! I could see myself from someplace outside and somehow from above. How did this happen? This minister was me. Thus, my reflection, 'From Cha Cha to Chaplaincy' began. When I look back at my life, it didn't surprise me to 'see' where I ended up, but to the astonishment of many, it was not on the dance floor.

So, as I draft and craft my history, I came to think that many people may be dancing in my shoes, and can relate to aspects of my story. Dancing with the Divine, my partnership with Spirit and feeling the rhythms of a cosmic life is the sweetest dance I have done so far. The authentic nature of the calling beats guides me deeper into self and Self.

From Cha Cha to Chaplaincy.

In the beginning...


They say, I was baptized twice: Once for real and the second time for show. In those days, it was not allowed by the Catholic Church to photograph a Holy Sacrament. I wonder if cameras had been invented during the days of the Egyptian Pharaohs, would the High Priest forbid the use of cameras...after all, there are carved pictures and paintings of Sacred moments and Rites of Passage found in our ancient archaeological sites...things that make you go hmmm!

But, back to my 'first and second' baptism. Fr. Joe was the priest that baptized me. He was a childhood friend of my mom and dad, along with my God-parents. In 1957, they were all adults, in their early to mid twenties. They were ripe and ready for the working adult world and acting as responsible members of the community. But, they still carried excitement like children at heart. The day I was baptized was the same day Fr. Joe was Ordained into the Catholic Priesthood. His friendship with my parents was such that he left his ordination celebration and baptized me 'twice'. I can imagine how exciting it was for Fr. Joe, my parents and God-parents, as these 5 young adults were stepping onto new ground in all the ways that was asked of them that day.

When I was a teenager, I was given a 'baby box'. The box contained things from my childhood. In it was a baby book where my folks documented anything new and monumental from hair growth and eye color to favorite things I played with or things I did. Also in the box were a few papers and pictures I had drawn, tests from elementary school and report cards; things too precious to throw away, but not worthy of permanent wall display. Also, in the box, was a blue and white onesee, (very cute and stylish!), the satin shoes I wore (or maybe I should say - the ones that were put on my feet) for my 'first and second' baptism and my baptism shawl. The shoes and shawl I still have.

The shoes rest in a small box covered with silver paper and a clear lid. They are tiny, shapeless and tinged yellowish with age. They do not appear to be 'everyday shoes'. They are 'fancy shoes', shoes that foretell the future.Who knew where these tiny shoes would lead me?

The shawl has always been draped over the back of a chair in every place I have lived. I have looked at the shawl just about everyday since I got the baby box as a teenager. The shawl always had some type of energy around it. It carried a feeling that I did not think about as something that was odd or unusual. It was 'just my Baptism shawl' - just a part of my past but something natural to have around. At least I felt that way.

As a young boy and into my teen years, my physical and spiritual realities existed simultaneously, rarely separate. I did not see or feel the difference between the two mindsets. In my physical existence, the shawl felt silky and soft. I had imagined how easy it was to allow this soft material to cuddle my infant body. Not scratchy, not heavy, not loose, not tight - just right. In my spiritual reality, the baptism shawl was my sacred skin, my protective blanket. The fabric held the blessings from Fr. Joe and the wishes and promises of my parents and God-parents. Some of these blessings, wishes and promises were spoken out loud in Catholic ritual. But I am sure much of what was wished for, promised and blessed were unspoken words from the 5 people who stood in attendance, to honor my new born life.

I see my shawl as a sacred object that holds some of emotional history from my past. It is a psychic link to my early life. It carries threads of intention in the weave, not only woven by the shawl maker with it's beautiful patterns and knots, but as a tapestry started by Fr. Joe, my mom and dad and God-parents for me to continue to weave and knot in whatever way I may choose to do so. And so life begins for me, with a weave of the spiritual and the physical, beautifully crafted in my Sacred Cloak. What will my tapestry look like? be continued.....

* This is a work in progress, an experiment and personal reflection. Any whole or part of this is not to be copied. Blog address may be shared in lieu of copying. Thanks for honoring.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Pamela Miles will be in Portland Maine July 16, 2013

Hi Everyone,

I'm very excited to announce that Pamela Miles will be coming to Portland to speak on Reiki. 'Reiki:  The Comprehensive Guide' written by Pamela Miles, was the first book I read while learning Reiki. If you are a Reiki Practitioner or someone interested in learning about Reiki for your own personal healing treatments or curios about learning Reiki as a practitioner, this lecture will be a great opportunity to hear someone speak who is fully experienced in Reiki in all of its capacities.

Pamela, who has demonstrated Reiki on the Dr. Oz show, poses two questions:
Do you want to feel better?
Does your healthcare need support?
She will speak about Reiki practice, how it addresses those questions, and guide local practitioners in giving light Reiki touch to anyone who wishes.
PORTLAND, MAINE Tuesday, July 16 6:30 – 8:30 PM 
Early fee $35 until July 8; $50 thereafter 
Cancellations minus $15 until July 8; none later 

Portland Public Library, Rines Auditorium 5 Monument Square, Portland ME 04101 

The Portland event starts with a SPECIAL FREE Introduction to Reiki Practice for the public. Reiki practitioners who register for the event will assist in offering Reiki samples and we will discuss the communication strategy in detail after the public leaves. 

Reiki practitioners are invited to bring their business cards to leave on the community table for the public and for professional networking.

See more at:

You can sign up for the lecture on Pamela Miles' web page:

To see Pamela's book "Reiki: A Comprehensive Guide", I have included this link to

Thursday, June 6, 2013

     As I walked into Chaplaincy with formal Ordination from the Chaplaincy Institute of Maine (ChIME), I wanted to share a path of my journey and offer thoughts on how ChIME fostered this quest. There are many more offerings that ChIME passed to me, but I start with just one -  'Meeting me where I was, as I share a short speech that I delivered to the congregation and the ChIME Community at Ordination.

I came to Chime to find a box with the name of a Divine Being and all the detailed information about that Being in it. It would answer my questions about the mysterious nature of God and the religions and spiritual practices that trace the nature of that Divine Being. 

I thought, by the acquisition of this box and it’s contents, I would then be ready to help and teach others to find what I treasured and valued in my own curious mind. I love thinking and discussing these rhetorical concepts about religion and spirituality.

But, the trappings of the words and language used in religion and spirituality have been confusing and sometimes harmful in the world, thereby creating fear and anxiety to those wanting to investigate more.

I often think outside the box, but in regards to religion and spirituality, what was outside the box was way to vast and infinite. 

I figured Chime could help me get right to the point. 

I found no box at Chime.

American poet and songwriter Michael Franti wrote: 
“Life is too short to make one decision, 
music is too loud for just one station, 
love is too big for one nation, 
and God is too big for just one religion!”

God (or the Divine), however one might call it, is too big to be put in a box. 
And, this Blessed Concept is too expressive in all of Its mysterious personalities to have just one name. 

So I searched deep to try to figure out what is the best way to speak of this Blessed Concept to avail everyone to an experience with the spiritual nature of their life. I couldn’t. 

Words cannot be found to the detail and depth needed to have full understanding - without argument! We have not created such a language that is universally acceptable. 

The stages of Interfaith and Interfaith Studies has become important.  While we surge forward as humans relating to each other and all of the aspects of global awareness, we may want to try to loss the words and feel the essence of all that is good in love and blessings. Chime has helped me hear this wordless presence.

Chime met me where I was. We are encouraged in our studies to meet folks where they are. Chime modeled this for me. I was able to refine and redefine my understanding of that Universal Life Force.

To me, Chime is a big loom, weaving all of the threads of my life into one tapestry. All of the threads that are woven into my tapestry belong there, regardless of their weight or strength, faults or truths, past judgements or current emotions. 

The tapestry’s threads are my family, friends, spirit, life’s past journeys and of course the Divine. 

I see these threads represented in my clergy stole. Each time I wear the stole, I will live in the presence of all that I was and all that I am and will be. 

And I know that more threads will be woven into this tapestry as I journey forward, walking as Chaplain.

I am thankful for the opportunity to have had the staff and classmates who helped me forge forward, looking for those post-existent words.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Dancing at the American Legion

Each year, I make my annual visit to Baltimore and come to the American Legion for holiday socializing. I'm a member - a 'Son of the American Legion' - my dad is a veteran.

Each year, I watch, listen and take in a variety of experiences, all worthy of the visit (and many more) when I come to Maryland.

As a dance teacher, I am always taken by the people dancing at the American Legion. They are smiling. They are 'on beat'. They dance with musicality that is difficult to teach. They dance with ease, personality and, most of all, fun.

What I ponder on each visit is how these dancers don't claim to be dancers, but to me, they are dancers. Most of them have not taken formal dance lessons. They are from a generation of dance and music that was the standard of American social life and the foundation of our American ballroom dancing that we enjoy today. One can see the intuitiveness and remembrance of days gone by...but those days are still here, for them. A good thing!

As a dance historian, I watch things that I teach in my college classes. It is a marvelous opportunity to find people still dancing some of the dances we think are part of the past. And in many ways, I feel we have disrespected our historical roots by assuming these dances are not danced any longer. The truth is that we just don't teach all of these dances in our dance studios. But, these dances are, indeed, still danced.

I watch Break-a-way Foxtrot, a delightful dance fusing swing and foxtrot. I watch the people do shag, a fast hopping dance based on swing movement and music. I see the original styles of the Latin American dancing, so popular today, but with the authentic movement designed by the American social dance culture. The visuals are perfect for anyone who is curious about why we do what we do on the dance floor. You can follow the historical journey of dance and dance development - right here at the American Legion. But in another moment, you will see contemporary styles of the same dances, danced by the same people to newer music. Newer is all relative! A given couple can go from a dance style demonstrating the 40's through the 50's, into the 60's and 70's.... it seems to stop there. And indeed in our dance world, new dances seemed to stop in the 70's as we retraced the dance tracks of previous decades, advancing the moves, creating new looks on vintage styles of dancing - just like it is in fashion.

I am always reminded, while at the American Legion, why I got into dance. Why I loved it so much and why I wanted to teach dance. This is a good reminder since I get so involved with daily business, in dance and in life, that frustrations build to the point of confusion as to 'why am I doing this?' And I get the opportunity to get the experience of music and dance from this particular point of view, given to me by my 'American Legion Homies'. Each year I profess I am going to take it back to Maine and distribute this old/new emotion in dance. And each year, it fades soon after returning to Maine. Through no fault of anyone or any group, it just isn't going to be repeated or recreated in the same way. But I treasure the authentic-ness of my tactile experiences at the American Legion, each year, as I will do on each visit to my Post in Maryland.

This year offered some unexpected experiences. Some were sad, bitter sweet and cute. Each and everyone one of these experiences are important to me as I survey life and the way people live it. Here are some of my experiences:

~While watching the people dance, they bump, but never loose their balance. The dancing is polite. Each dancing couple is aware of other dancers on the floor. They appear to be family at a party, not strangers at an event. This falls fast from some of today's dance floors. It is an era gone by!

~The band leader makes jokes that play on the memory of the seniors at the dance. It is tender in the way he distributes silly comments. He says things like 'I got this request last night, but I forgot to play it', - everyone laughs and reflects on their own memory loss from time to time.  They have not forgotten the music!

~One man speaks to another about his terminal cancer. He is not a senior, but he is a veteran. He sits as a single with another couple. "Today, I picked out my mausoleum", he says to one of the women he is friends with. She is in her 80's.

~One senior lady sits with her boyfriend. She is in her late 70's, older than her boyfriend who is in his early 70's. She is dating a younger man! She is thin and smart looking, very stylish in every aspect of her being - her dress, her makeup, her walking and sitting. She takes care of crack babies!

~The recorded music during breaks is Frank Sinatra and other crooners. Never during the evening was the music absent. The music seems to represent life continuing, folks are always smiling and chatting and loving being out and about. What would they do if there was no American Legion? My parents have given me the answer before I asked the question: 'We wouldn't know what we would do if we didn't have these friends and this lounge". Life continues at the American Legion - There is a reason!

~I dance with an 80+ year old lady. She is an artist, and was once a dress designer in California now living in Maryland. She is quite tailored, everything has a place. Her outfit, her hair, all the way to her fingers and toes, so delicately placed during every move I take her through on the dance floor. I take her through the moves from my knowledge in dance history. I feel she knows every step I am dancing. She is a marvelous partner.  I am improvising!

~ I hear one man talking to another about the a step he just danced with is partner. "I do that step in disco too, but you have to lift your leg up" and he demonstrates. They both wobble as they loose their balance. It's never too late to learn a new move (from the 70's)!

~ The band begins to play one of their many songs. My mom says "I don't like these slow songs, but there are good for the old people". My mom is 79!

~A man with a cane, and with his cane, walks onto the dance floor with his partner. He props the cane on a chair. He takes his partner around the waist. They glide around the floor, break into a swing type action, smiling and laughing during the whole song. Another couple joins them, more couples enter the floor. Before long, the floor was packed. Every one bouncing and dancing fiercely. The music and camaraderie take them back to their youth. They are all young men and women again as they listen to tunes that take them back to life without wrinkles. They forgot they were old! The music stops and they return to their slow walks and the cane.

~I dance with mom, she smiles the whole time. I dance with another woman a few times only to have necks bend to see what we might do. I'm the dance teacher from Maine. I know many of the names of the people in the lounge as I have been there many times. These folks live for each other's company. This is a blessed place. Joy and happiness, even if it is for a moment, lives on in the American Legion. Life is good!

~ I ordered a drink, a vodka gimlet. The drink costs under $2. It comes in a martini glass, as it would in any bar. Mine has an additional glass with it. It's called the 'left over glass' from the bartenders mixing flask and it includes an extra cup of ice. What? That's two drinks! What else would one do with the left over? Throw it out?

These are blessings I never would have expected to receive. These are the blessings that are so often forgotten or ignored. These seemingly small experiences grow into great, vast wonderments of love and gratefulness.

Blessed Be and Amen!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mabon, Perfect Timing! 
As the Wheel of the Year turns and we come to an end of this cycle, 
so starts my ChIMe year. 

This year includes an internship, which I will be doing at the Barron Center in Portland, Maine. The Barron Center is a state run hospital nursing home. This provides me with the opportunity to share 'Divine Time' and hold space for the spiritual aspects of the residents at the Barron Center.

Be on the look out for more posts, including a few stories about my beginning at the Barron Center so far this year.

Blessed Be!