Saturday, August 30, 2014


This essay, written and submitted by my partner and I, and was first published in the Rochester, NY Democrat and Chronicle newspaper in July 2010.

Each day when he learns something new, he says, “Yay!” with great enthusiasm. His body arches and he giggles out loud.  We, his grandmothers who care for him three afternoons each week, applaud and answer his glee with our own celebratory outpourings. 

As retired educators, we know the benefits of honoring success and providing a stimulating environment through cooperative, exploratory, and imaginative activities. Our almost-five year-old grandson radiates joy, excitement and love of learning as he manipulates his body and various objects and pours through books with intense concentration.  Within his relatively brief tenure as a learner, he has made amazing strides. 

As he enters kindergarten in the fall, we ask his future teachers:  What will you do to keep this flame alive?  How will you ensure that our grandson’s curiosity and love of learning continue?  How will you applaud his (and his peers’) successes and encourage his interest in the unknown?  Will you resist the temptation to provide all the answers and instead encourage him to ask higher-level questions? Will you have the confidence to guide him in seeking answers through various means?  What meaningful steps will you take to broaden his literacy in reading, writing, speaking, music and movement? What will you do to assure his parents and us that when we walk into his classroom, we will not find him sullen and discouraged and lost within the masses? 

Oh, what a travesty that would be. 

I post this letter for our newest grandchildren who will be entering through the school house doors within the next few years, and in honor of all kids who will be starting school this coming fall. 
Barb 8.30.2014

Saturday, August 23, 2014

"There Must be Another Way" Part II

Is there a better way? YES

Is guilt a package-deal with one’s faith? NO. IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE.

There is a better way.  But you have to be ready to completely change the way you perceive yourself, others and the world.  Not to mention Heaven.  And yes, Hell, yet another name for guilt and fear.

I recall writing a letter to the editor of our local newspaper.  The topic of my essay was about the inherent identity of people. Because judgment leads to discrimination, which I had experienced too many times and which runs rampant throughout so many cultures, I felt compelled to take a stand.  I wrote:

If the true essence of a person is his/her soul and not the color of his skin, her body weight, the accent of his native language, or his/her gender or sexual orientation, then aren’t we all alike?  Essentially, aren’t we each our spirit, which has no color, weight, accent, gender or sexual orientation?  So, if our real identity is that of our soul, how then can we judge and discriminate against another when there is truly nothing to judge and we are all the same?

I was on to something, but not receiving any feedback on my contention (and feeling a little uneasy about even having it published), I abandoned my stand.  I put my premise out there and then walked away from it, not fully developing my thoughts. Yet, something deep within my being was calling out to be recognized, if not by others, then surely myself.

So, what is this better way?  Why isn’t it making headlines?  How come people haven’t heard about it? Why are we suffering when there’s no need to?

The better way isn’t just one way.  There are many paths out there and one must choose that which calls to them; that resonates with them.  My better way is A Course in Miracles.  The Course first caught my attention in 1996 when I picked up my sister’s ACIM book.  The Introduction hooked me, and I quote it here verbatim from the Combined Volume, Second Edition, published by the Foundation for Inner Peace:

This is a course in Miracles.  It is a required course.  Only the time you take it is voluntary.  Free will does not mean that you can establish the curriculum.  It means only that you can elect what you want to take at a given time.  The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught.  It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance.  The opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite.

This course can therefore be summed up very simply in this way:

Nothing real can be threatened.

Nothing unreal exists.

Herein lies the peace of God.  I-1-2

You want to know what first caught my eye in this beautiful introduction?  The statement, The opposite of love is fear…  That is pretty darn powerful.  Had I been asked, What is the opposite of love? prior to reading that line I would have answered: hate.  But guess what?  Hate is based on fear.  So is envy, spite, jealousy, animus, ridicule, bullying, discrimination, anger, resentment, abuse, repugnance, attack, repulsion, abandonment, enmity, hatred, hostility, loathing, antagonism, rancor, revenge, guilt, shame, disgust, aversion, disgust, animosity, grievance, revulsion, scorn, war. And yet the list is not complete. But how easily these synonyms came to mind.  Er-r-r-r!

My challenge:  Would words and actions, which compliment LOVE burst forth as easily?

I knew that I had found my path, away from fear and toward a remembrance of Divine Love.  But it would take me another sixteen years until I found the connection to my Inner Teacher.

 Photos by Barb Adams (c)2014

This is what I understand today.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"There Must be Another Way" Part I

Years ago when I used to go to Confession, I would first do a mental inventory.  I'd try to figure out how I had sinned so that when I knelt down in that dark box and waited for the male figure on the other side to slide open the little door, I’d have something to say.

“Bless me Father for I have sinned.  It’s been six weeks since my last Confession.  Father, I ________ (This is where I had to fill in the blank.) 

When I was a kid, I’d say something like: “I lied to my mother three times and I disobeyed her twice.”

“Is there anything else?” the priest on the other side would ask.

“No, Father.”

“For your penance, say five Hail Mary’s, and five Our Fathers.”

“Yes, Father.”

Then the priest would pray over me to absolve me of my (made up) sins.

The little door would slide closed.  I’d get up off my knees, open the heavy velvet curtain and walk up to the altar railing, kneel down again, then bless myself. 

“In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Hail Mary full of Grace, the Lord is with Thee. Blessed art Thou among women and blessed is the fruit of Thy Womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.  Amen."

“Hail Mary…..”

I’d say my penance, feel cleansed and hot-tail it out of church.  Then, I’d breathe a sigh of relief that I had survived that ordeal…until the next time.

What I learned from that early religious experience was that I had been instructed to feel guilt, to search my mind for artifacts of guilt, sometimes for things that I hadn’t done.  Even if I had not sinned I felt compelled to make something up so that I could feel the requisite guilt.  I had to tell some mysterious, authoritative man sitting in a little box about it, and then wait for him to tell me that I was OK.

With all the mandates, rules and guidelines for obedience, I carried the feeling with me of living in that dark little box with the specter of guilt choking me for most of my life. Orthodoxy can do that to innocent minds. “Slam!” the door would shut closed and I’d find myself in the dark, smelling the incense of damnation.

“There must be a another way.”  

And I have found it!

Top photo by Barb Adams (c)2014