Universal Heart Newsletter from Stephanie Dowrick

Two invitations follow for services this coming Sunday, 20 December. (3pm and 7pm)
Here is a LINK for buying the exquisite new CD “In a Day of Silence” plus the reissued classic meditation CD “Peaceful Mind”, both created by sacred musician Dr Kim Cunio and writer Dr Stephanie Dowrick. (You can purchase these only via Millthorpe Blue or at the services.)
Links at the end also for a couple of articles of interest. Plus a link for buying audio editions as MP3s or CD sets.

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From Stephanie Dowrick’s book Heaven on Earth:
Make this an “Alleluia” day!
Look at the world through the eyes of love.
Speak up your gratitude.
Celebrate your appreciation.
Silence your complaints.
Choose kindness.
Witness the happiness you bring to others.
Witness the happiness you bring to yourself.
Alleluia!

Dear friends,

My warmest wishes to each of you at this spiritually rich but somewhat complex time of the year. For many of you, the “busyness” of Christmas or seasonal holidays is an unqualified joy. But for many others, and for many in my own circles, it can be a confronting time, especially if you are spending this usually festive season without people you have loved and cared for, or with any serious concerns that can seem especially poignant at this time.

Perhaps one of the most healing responses possible is to reach out and care for others. You may see new possibilities for that, or be willing to create them. Christmas can be a time of renewal, of new birth and hope – whatever our religious beliefs. This can be powerfully expressed through the timeless qualities of hospitality and inclusion.  I’m aware as I write that that we cannot wait always for others to include us; sometimes we must be the ones to take the initiative or even the risk – and perhaps especially when we don’t feel like it or fear that our interest and care may be rebuffed. Yet the happiness of all depends on how thoughtfully we behave.

Here is a most beautiful and true teaching from Thich Nhat Hanh that I have shared before and it’s singing to me again today: Happiness is not an individual matter; it has the nature of interbeing. When you are able to make one friend smile, her happiness will nourish you also. When you suffuse your body and mind with feelings of the joy of meditation, your body and spirit will be strengthened.

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I would simply add that faithfully choosing to lift our own spirits and contribute to others’ wellbeing is a daily practice that perhaps counts more than any other. It brings inner and outer harmony and strengthens us from the inside out, when freely made. It doesn’t require hiding from our sorrows and fears: on the contrary, when sorrow is present we need courage to face that compassionately. I find that I have to let myself fully experience and acknowledge what’s in my heart, accept it and myself, before I can begin to know what’s needed…or what is emerging. This takes trust, of course, and self-compassion: those are sublime qualities that we can only learn as we embrace them. And whatever your circumstances, stay open to inspiration. We need this, too, from one another. And from the great mystery of life itself. Last thought, but not least: value what you can give – and give it freely.

Two invitations for this Sunday, 20 December 2015. Please join us if you possibly can! At 3pm we have our sacred service at Pitt Street (264) Uniting Church. This month our theme is “Infinite blessings” – giving and receiving – a theme to console as well as inspire. And we will this month have exquisite music from Kim Cunio and Heather Lee. The address is Pitt Street (264) Uniting Church, Sydney. One block from Town Hall station. Nearest cross street is Park. For those of you who cannot get to Sydney, there are talks from past services available at this Interfaithinsydney YouTUBE LINK. We start promptly at 3pm. Tea and coffee available afterwards. At this time of year especially, we would ask you to send on this email invitation to anyone in your circles who might benefit from being with us for this truly inclusive service. No service in January. You may also send on the link to interfaithinsydney YOUTube for any of the talks that especially inspire you. That, too, is part of hospitality and welcome.  (Did you notice, too, that there are buttons at the bottom of this page to take you straight to Facebook, Twitter, email, for sending information along?!)

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On Sunday evening, starting promptly at 7pm, again at Pitt Street (264) Uniting, Sydney, you can hear the gorgeous traditional “Nine Lessons and Carols”, with two choirs, organ, a brass ensemble, and readings given by Dr Michael Spence and me. I was so thrilled when Bransby asked me to read at this very very special gathering: a perfect way to rejoice in the sacredness of Christmas, whatever your faith background.

The links to articles that follow will interest some of you. One is an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald (and on line) a few days ago where I offer some preliminary thoughts about the “reforms” that might bring institutional Christianity closer to the inclusive, compassionate intentions (as far as we can understand them) of Jesus. The other may seem more mundane, but is a piece I wrote for Sunday Life on being “busy” which can be both a trap and a means to achieve more than we could ever have imagined.

Ten Timely Reforms  (you are most welcome to comment on my Facebook page)

On the mixed blessings of being “busy” (again, please comment on Facebook)

Here, too, is a link to the audio editions of four of my books. Listening can bring new insights and a quite intimate experience – perhaps because we are literally receiving the words: Bolinda Publishing LINK.

I’d like to leave you with a suggestion to spend some moments on each of the final days of this year reflecting deeply and sincerely on the gifts of insight and wisdom that this year has given you. Some of them will be hard-won; I hope others were more easily gained. But you will discover most by writing them down, and returning to this more than once (as I describe in Creative Journal Writing). Life is your greatest teacher. We must, though, “sit quietly, tune inward, and listen”!

Unlimited blessings to all. Please keep me also in your prayers. Stephanie Dowrick

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