Monday, February 28, 2011

Margaret Fuller

I had the opportunity to attend the church service at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Fredonia yesterday for the wonderful sermon presented by Reverend Theresa Kime about an important Unitarian historical figure, Margaret Fuller. 

Many people associate Margaret Fuller with the American transcendentalism movement (The term Transcendentalism was derived from the philosopher Kant, who called "all knowledge transcendental which is concerned not with objects but with our mode of knowing objects"), especially because she moved in those circles with well-known figures such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Bronson Alcott, Elizabeth Peabody, and Nathaniel Hawthorne.  In fact, several of those authors (they were also her "friends") modeled some of their characters after her.

Here's an example of Fuller's transcendentalism:
"We will worship by impromptu symbols, till the religion is framed for all Humanity. The beauty grows around us daily, the trees are now all in blossom and some of the vines; there is a Crown Imperial just in perfection, to which I paid my evening worship by the light of the fire, which reached to us, and there are flashes of lightening too."(Letter IV to James Nathan)
She's even a student of Emanuel Swedenborg (one of my heros)!  She quotes him and positively refers to his spiritual experiences and understandings in some of her writings (see this link for one such article I found, curtesy of Googlebooks).

Between what I learned from Rev Terry and my own research, I discovered that Fuller wore many hats --- she was an American journalist, a women's rights advocate, a war correspondent, a teacher, and a mother. Among her accomplishments:
  • First American to write a book about equality for women, the landmark book "Woman in the Nineteenth Century"
  • Learned Latin at age 6, Greek at age 10, and went on to learn other languages including German and Italian
  • By the time she was in her 30s, Fuller had earned a reputation as the best-read person in New England, male or female
  • First editor of "The Dial" (the top Transcendentalist journal of the time), appointed by Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • First woman to be allowed to enter Harvard Library
  • First woman journalist on Horace Greeley's "New York Daily Tribune"
  • Advocated reform at all levels of society, including prison, the homeless, and the rights of Native Americans and African Americans
  • Stayed overnight in Sing Sing Prison, interviewing women prisoners and encouraging a more humane system for its women inmates
  • First woman literary critic who also set literary standards, especially as a book reviewer
  • First woman foreign correspondent and war correspondent to serve under combat conditions
  • In the summer of 1843, she traveled to Chicago, Milwaukee, Niagara Falls and Buffalo, New York: while there, she interacted with several Native Americans, including members of the Ottawa and the Chippewa tribes.  She reported her experiences in a book called "Summer on the Lakes"
  • Took part in the Italian revolution as a nurse while her husband fought in the stuggle.
Many people considered Fuller to be head-strong, blunt, and brilliant.  She confused, unsettled and quite simply scared many of the men she met.  After meeting her, Edgar Allan Poe said "Humanity is divided into three classes:  men, women, and Margaret Fuller."

Fuller was an incredible woman who traveled widely, was out-spoken about her beliefs and experiences, and entered frontiers that women of that time did not dare to tiptoe near.  She helped educate the women of her day by leading a series of "Conversations" in which women were empowered to read, think and discuss important issues of the day. She empowered generations of women (and men) to explore intelligiently, especially through her ground-breaking writings and experiences.

By now, you have probably noticed that Fuller was an unconventional woman and seemed to have an uncanny ability to attract the unusual.  She certainly had a life full of many adventures, and with that list of amazing accomplishments listed above, I was somewhat surprised to learn that Margaret Fuller only lived 40 years on the earth plane. She was born in 1810 in Cambridgeton, Massuchessetts and died in 1850 (as I will detail below).

Here's something else I found out (as an intuitive, this is of special interest to me):  She had premonitional feelings about her death.  Early on in the year of her death (1850), Fuller wrote to a friend: "It has long seemed that in the year 1850 I should stand on some important plateau in the ascent of life ... I feel however no marked and important change as yet."  Also that year, Fuller wrote: "I am absurdly fearful and various omens have combined to give me a dark feeling ... It seems to me that my future upon earth will, soon close ... I have a vague expectation of some crisis—I know not what".

Fuller was correct --- a few days after writing this, she began a five-week return voyage from Italy to the United States aboard an American merchant freighter carrying cargo.  Her husband and their one-year-old son traveled with her. 

As they crossed the Atlantic Ocean, their ship captain died of small-pox and the inexperienced first mate took over.  Fuller and her family never made it to their destination.  They died with land in sight in a tragic shipwreck off of Fire Island, NY.  A memorial was erected on Fire Island for Margaret Fuller and her long-time friend Emerson composed the inscription:
By birth a child of New England
By adoption a citizen of Rome
By genius belonging to the world

I plan to learn more about this incredible woman.  And here's my opportunity AND YOURS!!!  For as Margaret Fuller stated "If you have knowledge, let others light their candle with it" --- I have knowledge of a Margaret Fuller re-enactment performance to share with you.

On Thursday March 10th, tribute artist and author Laurie James (from NYC) will present “Men, Women and Margaret Fuller”, an orginal solo drama about this brilliant woman who shaped philosophical, literary, and social dialogue in America’s early 19th Century.

The performance will take place at 7:00 pm at The 1891 Fredonia Opera House in Fredonia NY and is sponsored by The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Northern Chautauqua. Tickets are available by calling the Opera House at (716) 679-1891.

I hope to see some of you at the Opera House for the Fuller re-enactment! May Fuller’s life inspire us to deepen and expand the living of our own lives!!!

Links about Margaret Fuller: 
http://www.margaretfuller.org/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Fuller
http://fredopera.org/home/men_women_and_margaret_fuller for tickets

Monday, February 21, 2011

Beach bliss at the Snow Beach

Here I am in Lily Dale in the heart of winter.  We have had windchills that make it below zero at times and snow up to our crown chakras.  Jack Frost and Old Man Winter seem to enjoy visiting our part of the world a lot and they are guests that are very demanding physically (I think the snowshovel is still frozen to my mitten).   So when the wintery blasts are at their most fierce, my meditations start to take on a decidedly tropical theme --- I go to the BEACH and bliss out. 

Thankfully, I have had the opportunity to visit a few of the beaches in my time here on the Earth plane.  At first glance, one might think that all beaches are the same -- just an accumulation of sand and water.  But for me, it is so much more.

A beach is where land and water and sky meet.  A beach is magical.  And each beach is unique - some have:
  • course gravel-like sand that is perfect for hatching sea turtles
  • pure white sand that doesn't hold heat so you don't have to worry about scorched feet
  • perfectly shaped half sea shells
  • twisted, corkscrew-looking shells
  • seaweed and seafoam clumping at the edge
  • shark teeth (these petrified pieces can sometimes be difficult to catch in the wash of an incoming wave)
  • shallow waters so that you can walk in water below your knees for a mile.
  • sharp drop-offs into a watery abyss
  • starfish and sand dollars
  • white, green, brown, or black sand
  • pelicans, seagulls, and sandpipers
  • amazing aqua blue water that is crystal clear
  • palm trees
  • sand dunes
  • dolphins
  • places to write and draw in the sand
  • sandcastles and laughing children
And the sky changes everything.
  • The surreal haze of light and water creates a place with no horizon
  • Litttle puffs of cloud sail in the sky about the boats bobbing in the ocean waves
  • Gray clouds part to reveal "God's eye" and sun streams down in thick rays of light
Yes, during this harsh cold months of winter it's nice to visit my tropical "happy place" in my meditations. 

During my shoveling, I imagine I'm scooping beach sand that has been heated by the warm sun.  My son eagerly assists me (he has his own little shovel and takes great delight in clearing the snow too).  Sometimes he brings out his trucks&tractors and plays in the snow like he's playing at the beach.  He knows how to enjoy our "snow beach". *smile* 

And in the hot days of summer, I shall remember the refreshing cool temperatures of winter and give thanks for the opportunity to experience the best in any season.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Little Beaver and the Echo


Because I am the guest speaker at the Unitarian Universalist Church this Sunday, I met with Cheryl (the UU music director extraordinaire).  We reviewed the hymns and the order of service.
She asked me about my lecture "Your Sacred Self" and she tailored the choice of hymns to fit with the subject matter.  As we reviewed the order of service, we discussed the other aspects of my involvement with the service.  Beyond the lecture, I have other "duties".  I am responsible for:
  • The Centering Words before the hymn
  • The Story for All Ages
  • The Closing Words
During the Centering Words, I shall encourage those gathered to open themselves to their Highest Expression.  And during the Closing Words, I will send them off into the world again inspired and aware of their light. *smile*

But what I'm really excited about is the Story for All Ages!  It's the time in the service where I read a story of my choosing to the Children.  Last year, my son was only a year old, so I was still in the simplified books.  This year, he's two so I've found a beautiful story called "Little Beaver & the Echo".



It's about a lonely beaver who hears a voice from across the lake, a voice that expresses the same problem he does "I need a friend".  This sparks a quest as he searches for the owner of the voice and meets other animals who he befriends during the journey.  The little beaver moves from sadness to joy and it is reflected back to him across the water consciousness.  To me, this book shows the Law of Attraction and the Law of Creative Reality in simple terms.

If you're coming to church this Sunday, you will have the opportunity to hear me read it!  Hope to see you there!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

2-20 Sunday speaker at Unitarian service

I am the Guest Speaker at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Sunday February 20th.

My lecture topic is "Your Sacred Self". And I will share my thoughts on discovering your sacred self and increasing awareness of your personal inner journey of enlightenment.

For more info, visit www.willawhite.com

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Elwood P. Dowd

One of my favorite movie characters of all time is Elwood P. Dowd.  He is the main character of the delightful 1950 black & white movie "Harvey" (I love old movies!), as depicted by Jimmy Stewart.

An extremely compassionate man, Elwood is unfazed by his family's frantic actions to wrestle him into normalcy.  He remains true to himself, exhibiting a rare and easy confidence that the universe is conspiring for his greater good, no matter what his relatives are cooking up.  With his usual eccentric and charming acceptance of events, he has befriended a pooka (in this case a white rabbit that stands 6'3" tall) who many people don't allow themselves to admit seeing.

And I find myself frequently thinking on his actions and words, and wishing to model myself after his sentiments.  Here are a few things I've learned (and still learning) from this sweet man:
  • Other people's reality - "Well, I've wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I'm happy to state I finally won out over it."
  • Live in the now - "I always have a wonderful time, wherever I am, whomever I'm with."  
  • Be oh so pleasant - "Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, 'In this world, Elwood, you must be'- she always called me Elwood - 'In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.' Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me."
  • Enjoy the beauty of EVERY day - When the mailman says, "Beautiful day...", Elwood responds sincerely, "Oh, every day is a beautiful day."
  • We are never alone - When a man asks the bartender, "Is he [Elwood] alone?" The bartender replies, "Well, there's two schools of thought, sir."
Elwood lives in a state of superconsciousness while existing on the physical plane and he demonstrates principles of unconditional love. I hope you get a chance to watch this charming film, and that you chuckle, and feel inspired by Elwood's 'philosophy of life' like I do!