Saturday, October 29, 2011

Arun Gandhi: Nonviolence in the Age of Terror. (Complete Speech)

Part One of the full speech by Dr. Arun Gandhi, grandson of M.K Gandhi discussing his understanding of Non-violent resistance, and the importance of returning to this concept and practice today.

"The choice is no longer between violence and non-violence; the choice is now between non-violence and non-existance." -M.K. Gandhi

Follow the link below to the complete playlist on UTube:




Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tools for Inner Transformation. Sight: Seeing The Need To Change.

For the next several weeks I will be doing a series of articles focusing on the Spiritual Tools needed for inner transformation. These tools will be presented in a non-religious framework, using everyday language that anyone can understand. You do not have to be religious or non-religious in order to effect radical transformation at a core level. All one has to be is a Spiritual Person who is open to Spiritual concepts. And deep down, at our root level, we are all Spiritual Beings.

The first tool I will deal with is that of Sight or Spiritual insight. It involves being able to see the need for change. This is really one of the first steps to a deep inner transformation. In order to seek to change, we first must see and be clearly convinced of the need for change. If we think we are fine just the way we are, then chances are we will not change ourselves, unless forced to do so by outer circumstances. But if we can see some fault or series of faults within ourselves, we will eventually become open to change. Sometimes the faults can be clearly obvious. If a person has a habit of drinking a case of beer every night and has had a few DWI's, it does not take a rocket scientist to see this person has a deep need to change. Of course addicts with this kind of background may still need some convincing, but over the course of time the truth will become clear. With other people the need for change may not be so obvious. What about a person who is addicted to gossip instead of alcohol? They may think they are just fine; that it is everybody else who has a problem. But over the course of time, when a person has spread enough slanted stories conveying a false message which seems true to them; when they have unintentionally, or perhaps even intentionally, destroyed the lives of more than a few good people, then they too may see the need for change. Or let us consider a person who has a very judgemental character, who holds onto grudges and has a difficult time to forgive and let go of past resentments or hurts. They may think they are just fine too. But, over the course of time, this person may begin to feel physical symptoms in their bodies such as high blood pressure or ulcers. If they have the Spiritual Insight to look deeply into themselves, they may see their physical ailments are but the material manifestations of their own inner problems and difficulties. They may begin to see the wisdom in letting go of the past, practicing forgiveness, and allowing love and healing to flow into their lives, both on a Spiritual level and on a physical level.

So one of the first steps in effecting inner change and transformation is to be able to see the need for change. For some people this is going to be easier than others. Consider for a moment why both Jesus and the Buddha liked to associate themselves with people who were publicly recognized as being sinners? Did they just love to go "slumming" as we might call in today? Why would Jesus sometimes say to the self-righteous of his day, "Tax collectors and prostitutes are entering into the Kingdom of Heaven ahead of you."? Because these people, the prostitutes and the social outcasts of his day had the grace that the self-righteous could never imagine: they could clearly see their need to change, and thus were on the first steps of the Spiritual ladder which the self-righteous could not even begin to enter upon. They may have been considered the "scum of the earth" by others, but to Jesus, Buddha, and other great Spiritual masters, they were Children of God ready to advance into paradise.

So it is with us today. It may be surprising, but those who have practiced some very flawed and spiritually corrupt life-styles, such as the alcoholic, addict, criminal or even murderer, may be ready to advance in self transformation more quickly than the average person. And the reason for this is that they may have been beaten down enough and bleed deeply enough to begin to awaken to the need for change, and finally arrived at a point where they are willing to do whatever it takes to effect change in their lives. But it first begins with the ability to see. Do I need to change? What do I need to change? Open our eyes that we might see!



Thursday, July 21, 2011

InterFaith Unity, Contemplation, and Humanitarian Outreach: Our Guiding Stars.

Here at St Francis Place our work revolves around three basic concepts which together form our mission: InterFaith Unity, Contemplation, and Humanitarian Outreach.

InterFaith Unity:

We are all God's Children regardless of how we see or understand God. By coming together in extended community both online and face to face we learn to see the commonalities that exist between us. Eventually we begin to see not just the Unity which exists between us, but also the Oneness of all things; all things being rooted in the Creator. With each other's support and friendship we break through the walls of illusion which have divided us for too long, and begin building bridges of love and Unity!


Contemplation, or Prayer and Meditation; call it what you will. This discipline is known to all in varying forms. Some may sit cross-legged chanting a mantra. Another may take a silent walk in nature. Others may lose themselves in creating or observing a work of art. Still others may gain this state of mind in the very deep and profound study of Scripture. Contemplation gives us the ability to see beyond ourselves and into the Mind of the Universe. In Contemplation we seek out the Will of God, as we understand God, and gain the insight, strength and energy needed to do the work that needs to be done. We cut through the chatter of our day-to-day lives and listen to the silence and the stillness of the Divine. By engaging in these practices on a daily basis we attain Serenity, Peace of Mind, and Wisdom.

Humanitarian Outreach (Helping Others):

We have all needed help at one time or another. And in our times of deepest need there was somebody there to help. It is not always possible or even necessary to repay those who have been there for us, but we can honor our benefactors through the simple act of "paying it forward." When we see a person in need, give whatever you can. Give without demanding payment in return. Rather ask only that when their circumstances improve they also repay your kindness by spreading the gift of goodness to others. We all have needs, and we all have abilities. Let us use them not just in the service of ourselves, but in the service of others as well. Thus we fulfill the Scriptural command, "Love your neighbor as you love yourself."

Here at St Francis Place, InterFaith InterPeace, ACA, and our other ministerial outreach programs we practice being open to all regardless of religion (or lack there-of), race, creed, color, sex, or sexual orientation. All with an open heart are welcome.

If you would like to join our extended online community, message me for details. Those wishing to make a donation to this work may do so by clicking on the "Donate" button above.

Thank You For Your Care and Interest,


Homeless In Hickory County: A True Story of Extended Community.

Back around Christmas a few years ago a homeless man named Steve knocked on our door. I was the pastor of a local Christian Church, so having strangers knock on my door asking for aid was a routine situation. Usually I would talk to them for a few minutes, access their need for help, and slip them a Salvation Army voucher redeemable for goods at most retail stores if the situation warranted. But Steve was different. He did not want a Salvation Army voucher or even cold hard cash. All he wanted was a tent. He told me he had come back into the area to see his family at Christmas, but did not want to live off of his kids even though he was homeless and could not afford a hotel. He shared that he had been living in his car up to that point, and with the nights getting colder, could not afford to run the car's engine to keep warm. His request was simple and to the point: a spare blanket that he could use in his old sleeping bag for warmth, and an old tent if we had one.

In Hickory County Mo. there is not much by way of housing homeless people for any period of time. What we pastors usually would do was put them up for a day at a local hotel which always gave us a special rate during the off-season, then provide for a bit of food. The next morning the homeless person would hit the road again for the next town that would provide some form of basic hospitality, and the pattern would repeat. But I could tell right away that Steve was different from the majority of people I had dealt with. There was an excitement in his eyes and a child-like innocence about him. He was around 50 years of age, but reminded me of a child of 12. He spoke briefly about "hearing voices" telling him to forsake his faith in God, but that he wanted nothing to do with those suggestions which he attributed to coming from Satan. He said he was a child of God and wanted to live as a child of God. He did not like being around a lot of people, but instead preferred to live out in nature with "God's creatures." I could tell right away I was dealing with a paranoid schizophrenic of the classic type. Not the kind that presented a danger to others, but rather a sweet and loveable one who, while needing help, prefered giving help to others rather than receiving for himself. This would not be one of my typical pastoral missions of mercy. Rather this would be one that would teach me a great deal about human nature and life in general.

With Steve waiting in our living room I called the local authorities and had a background check done on Steve. He was clean with no prior offences. I called the mental health authorities in the area asking if they knew of any programs he might qualify for. I discovered to my surprise that in our small rural area there were no programs that could take him in. According to one man I spoke with the best that could be done would be to put him into an institution for an overnight evaluation, then, if they felt he was not a danger to others, would cut him loose the next day leaving him again out on his own. After these conversations I took Steve to our backyard storage shed and gave him an old tent I had not used in years, as well as a blanket and some tins of food. Against my usual better judgement, I worked hard to convince him to take $20 for gas. He did not want to accept the money at first, then only accepted it on the condition that he could pay me back when he could. He took his things and headed out to a local campground which allowed the homeless to stay free of charge during the winter months. I never really expected to see him again.

What happened in the next few days was totally unexpected. Within two days he was back on my doorstep with $20 in hand and a Christmas cake. He told me his son had given him some money and some food, and he wanted to pay back my hospitality. I accepted the money, but told him to at least keep the food. He smiled and said, "Awe Ralph...I really don't like fruit cake. It gives me the runs, and when you are homeless you have to be careful about things like that." No other explanation was necessary for me at that point. I accepted his gifts, and asked how he was doing and exactly where he was staying. He had a place in a local park not too many miles away, and I told myself I would check in with him every few days to see how he was doing. A few days later I did just that. I arrived early in the morning at Steve's campsite to find him feeding a deer potato skins! It was like he was feeding a family pet! The innocence this man portrayed could even be felt by the park animals. He seemed to be doing fine, so while I did not like leaving him out in nature during the cold winter month of December, I left feeling like I was doing the right thing.

Another day later I knew I had to take more drastic action. The weather report warned of a large ice storm moving into our area, which would last several days. I went down to his campsite and after a long conversation, convinced him to move out of there. We got him packed into his car just as the ice started coming down. I managed to book him into a really cheap hotel for $250 per month paying first and last months rent, and asked Steve to promise me he would stay there for at least the full two months. He said he would, and thanked me for the help. After I got Steve moved in, I managed to make it back home in the middle of the ice storm. Later that night the ice was so severe we lost electricity in our home and over much of the county. The outage would last for over a week. The next morning waking up in a cold house with the temps just above freezing, my concern was more for my family rather than Steve. I wondered how he was doing, but saw also that we were iced in and could really do nothing more to help. So I just camped out in our powerless unheated home with my wife and made the best of it. We ate out of cans and heated by candlelight for the next few days until the roads were cleared enough for us to get out.

About that time Steve showed up again. He was happy and grateful and was wanting to check up on us to see how we were doing. He was surprised to find that we were without power as his utilities were still on! He offered for my wife and I to stay at his place. I appreciated the offer, but being a church pastor who lived right next door to the church he served, I told him I had to stay on site to keep an eye on things. A few days after that the power was finally restored, and our life began to get back to normal.

After the Christmas, New Years, and ice storm closure period was over, I took the situation concerning Steve up with the wider church. Most were eager to help out. I told them we had paid two months rent for him out-of-pocket, but that additional funds might be needed from the church until a more permanent living arrangement could be found. One kind church member took out her check book and gave me a check for $250 saying she wanted to split the cost with us for putting Steve up for those two months. Others gathered together more blankets and food. An old cot that had been gathering dust in somebodies basement found its way up to Steve's place along with pots, pans, and other household goods. Within 30 days a church member who did not want to be identified talked to the owner of a local lumber yard and convinced him to give Steve a job. Steve came over to our place that day to give me the news! He was beaming with delight. He loved the chance to work again, and paid his own way for the next nine months. Over that same period of time we got Steve signed up for medical benefits and things seemed to be going well. I thought we had a real success story on our hands. Unfortunately I do not exactly have a happy ending to report as of this writing.

It seems at one point Steve stopped seeing the doctor we had signed him up for, and stopped taking his medications again. He never fully trusted the doctor, nor did he trust the medications. Such is common with the schizophrenic. Sometime in September after nine months of having settled down into a normal lifestyle, he followed the voices back out onto the road. I have lost track of him, but still wonder where he is and what he is up to, hoping that if our paths cross again we might be able to help in a far better way. Services to the homeless in our county are still few to none except for the outreach of a few small churches and committed pastors. This is where you the reader may be able to help!

By clicking on the "Donate" key to the right of this post, you can help us provide aid to other people such as Steve. Even donations as low as five to ten dollars per month can be of great benefit. Realistically one person or even one small group of people can not always do much to help out those who can not for whatever reason help themselves. But by joining our limited resources together, we can make a definite difference in the lives of others. All that is needed is the willingness to take action and do what you can to reach out to those in need. Your help today will be greatly appreciated.


Ralph and Heydi

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Why forgive? Why should I let somebody off the hook who has done me harm in the past? People today are usually slow to forgive, thinking they have a right to their anger (which we do), but not thinking of the harm holding onto anger does to themselves. Long ago the Buddha put it this way, "Hanging onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at somebody else. You are the one who gets burned."

When we hold onto to anger, all sorts of bad things can happen to us. If you have held onto a resentment for any length of time a simple demonstration will make this point clear. Think of somebody whom you have not yet completely forgiven who has caused you harm in the past. Now, what do you notice about yourself and the way you are feeling? Has you face turned red yet? Do you feel your blood pressure going up? Any signs of stomach upset? If you are thinking about this close to bedtime, do you have trouble going to sleep afterwards? Do you feel like crying, pounding a wall, or going out for a drink? These and other things are warning signs that not forgiving another person for the harm they have done to you in the past is screwing up your present moment. Also notice that holding onto the anger is not causing these things to happen to the person you are holding the anger against; rather they are happening to you.

Forgiveness clears the way for us to get on with our lives. If we are holding onto anger and resentments, we are hanging onto the past, and a very nasty part of our past. Focusing on the past obscures our view of the present. Rather than going ahead with our lives, we are stuck looking into the rearview mirror as it were (and a cracked rearview mirror at that). How can we move forward when we spend too much time looking behind? We can not. We must eventually see the wisdom in leaving the past behind, for ourselves and others, so we can see the present for what it is, and move ahead into the future. Forgiveness makes this possible.

Most Christians today believe they do not have to forgive anyone. They tend to believe that if they accept Jesus as their Lord ans Savior, then God will forgive them. But that is about as far as forgiveness goes for many of them. Is this what Jesus taught? A simple look at the Gospel of Matthew will show that it is not.

In Matthew 6: 14-15 Jesus makes this clear. "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (NRSV) Here Jesus teaches a very simple law of Karma: You reap what you sow; or, what goes around comes around. As we forgive others, so will God forgive us. In other parts of Matthew Jesus again points out the urgency in forgiving the sins of others. "When you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift at the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift." (Matthew 5: 23-24, NRSV). The Christians of the 1st century took this teaching seriously. There is a practice recorded in the Didache (Teaching of the Apostles) which reads, "On the Lord's Day assemble in common to break bread and offer thanks; but first confess your sins so that your sacrifice may be pure. However nobody who is quarreling with their brother may join your meeting until they are reconciled; your sacrifice must not be defiled." (Didache 14: 1-2) This should make it abundantly clear that forgiveness is not just something the first followers of Jesus believed in; it is something they practiced and taught others to do as well.

Today in churches and even in some pop psychology circles forgiveness is taught as being optional. Nothing could be more harmful or further from the truth! Forgiveness is essential to the life of a healthy human being. People working in recovery groups have noticed that when alcoholics practice forgiveness, their chances of complete recovery dramatically improve. But if they hold onto resentments, it is usually only a matter of time before their next drink. Even non-alcoholics notice a life improvement when they learn to forgive. They gain the ability to see life more clearly and live life more fully. In some people who begin to practice forgiveness for the first times some amazing physical changes are noticed as well. High blood pressure may stabilize; insomnia may disappear and stomach ulcers may heal of their own accord. When these changes are noticed in ordinary human beings who practice forgiveness for the first time in their lives, the "why" of forgiveness becomes obvious; we do this to stop punishing ourselves!

There is an old saying, "Time heals all wounds." When we forgive this saying is proven to be true. However there is an opposite yet just as true saying, "Time wounds all heels." When we refuse to forgive others and ourselves, this saying is borne out in spades.

This all is not to say that we should forget the harm that others have done to us and to set ourselves up to being hurt all over again. John F. Kennedy once said, "Forgive the sins of others, but remember their names." In other words we should forgive the trespass, but remember and respect the weakness in the other person (and in ourself) which made the trespass possible in the first place. If your husband is an alcoholic who has beaten you and your children while drinking; forgive the trespass, but take measures to protect yourself and others from any further abuse, even to the point of leaving the home and seeking legal recourse. If somebody has cheated you out of a large sum of money, again forgive the trespass, but be cautious about trusting your money with that person again, and if appropriate, file criminal charges. Yet we should always leave the door open to repentance and transformation! We never punish an evil doer out of a sense of revenge. Rather we do so out of love hoping the wrong-doer will learn from their mistakes and change, and also remembering the times in the past in which we ourselves had been the evil-doer. Remember too that people do change and grow over time. An alcoholic who once did terrible things to themselves and others may become an outstanding citizen and parent once they seek help and put their drinking days behind them. Likewise common thieves can become trustworthy once more when they truly learn the errors of their ways and seek to move forward as more Godly persons. Forgiveness leaves the door open to such transformation. A lack of forgiveness tries to shut this door tight.

Great spiritual masters such as Jesus, the Buddha, and others knew about the power of forgiveness and transformation. They commonly associated with criminals and riff-raff that the normal religious people of their time would avoid. And in the literature of the great world religions, we see accounts of people who were once thought to be completely lost being redeemed; thieves becoming great teachers and killers becoming saints. Redemption for anyone is possible. Let us never shut the door.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Music. The Greatest In The World.

A Global Music Project of Bnei Baruch...

Friday, May 27, 2011

What if...?

What if Moses stayed out in the desert and remained a shepherd for the rest of his life?  What if Jesus remained in Galilee and did nothing but carpentry?  What if Mohammed continued on as a caravan leader and nothing more?  Where would we all be then.

Each of these men went on to chance the world as we know it, each in his own way.  What if they all just gave up and said to hell with it?  How would that act of saying no to God have altered human history?  We too play a part in the world around us and in God's plan for humanity.  What happens when we say no to God?  How big of a change could we see when a few simple people, be they farmers, carpenters, or tour directors decide to say yes to God's Will in their lives?  The choice is ours!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Peace Is Every Step (Thich Nhat Hanh) and Building The House Of Peace (Ajahn Brahm).

For those who are not yet familiar with Thich Nhat Hanh or Ajahn Brahm I present the following two samples of their teaching. May peace be within you!

Peace Is Every Step Trailor  Thich Nhat Hanh

Building The House Of Peace Ajahn Brahm

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Golden Key. By Emmet Fox.

The Golden Key

Scientific prayer will enable you to get yourself or anyone else, out of any difficulty. It is the golden key to harmony and happiness.

To those who have no acquaintance with the mightiest power in existence, this may appear to be a rash claim, but it needs only a fair trial to prove that, without a shadow of doubt, it is a just one. You need take no one's word for it, and you should not. Simply try it for yourself.

God is omnipotent, and we are God's image and likeness and have dominion over all things. This is the inspired teaching, and it is intended to be taken literally, at its face value. The ability to draw on this power is not the special prerogative of the mystic or the saint, as is so often supposed, or even of the highly trained practitioner. Everyone has this ability Whoever you are, wherever you may be, the golden key to harmony is in your hand now. This is because in scientific prayer it is God who works, and not you, and so your particular limitations or weaknesses are of no account in the process. You are only the channel through which the divine action takes place, and your treatment will be just the getting of yourself out of the way.

Beginners often get startling results the first time, for all that is essential is to have an open mind and sufficient faith to try the experiment. Apart from that, you may hold any views on religion, or none.

As for the actual method of working, like all fundamental things, it is simplicity itself. All you have to do is this: Stop thinking about the difficulty, whatever it is, and think about God instead. This is the complete rule, and if only you will do this, the trouble, whatever it is, will disappear. It makes no difference what kind of trouble it is. It may be a big thing or a little thing: it may concern health, finance, a lawsuit, a quarrel, an accident, or anything else conceivable: but whatever it is, stop thinking about it and think of God instead -- that is all you have to do.

It could not be simpler, could it? God could scarcely have made it simpler, and yet it never fails to work when given a fair trial.

Do not try to form a picture of God, which is impossible. Work by rehearsing anything or everything that you know about God. God is wisdom, truth, inconceivable love. God is present everywhere, has infinite power, knows everything, and so on. It matters not how well you may think you understand these things: go over them repeatedly.

But you must stop thinking of the trouble, whatever it is. The rule is, to think about God. If you are thinking about your difficulty, you are not thinking about God. To be continually glancing over your shoulder in order to see how matters are progressing is fatal, because it is thinking of the trouble, and you must think of God and nothing else. Your object is to drive the thought of the difficulty out of your consciousness, for a few moments at least, substituting for it the thought of God. This is the crux of the whole thing. If you can become so absorbed in this consideration of the spiritual world that you forget for a while about the difficulty, you will find that you are safely and comfortably out of your difficulty -- that your demonstration is made.

In order to "golden key" a troublesome person or a difficult situation, think. "Now 1 am going to 'golden key' John, or Mary. or that threatened danger": then proceed to drive all thought of John, or Mary, or the danger out of your mind, replacing it with the thought of God.

By working in this way about a person, you are not seeking to influence his conduct in any way, except that you prevent him from injuring or annoying you, and you do him nothing but good. Thereafter, he is certain to be in some degree a better, wiser, and more spiritual person, just because you have "golden keyed" him. A pending lawsuit or other difficulty would probably fade out harmlessly without coming to a crisis, justice being done to all parties concerned.

If you find that you can do this very quickly, you may repeat the operation several times a day with intervals between. Be sure, however, each time you have done it, that you drop all thought of the matter until the next time. This is important.

We have said that the golden key is simple, and so it is, but of course it is not always easy to turn. If you are very frightened or worried, at first it may be difficult to get your thoughts away from material things. But by constantly repeating a statement of absolute Truth, such as: There is no power but God: I am the child of God, filled and surrounded by the perfect peace of God: God is love; God is guiding me now; or, perhaps best and simplest of all. God is with me -- however mechanical or trite it may seem -- you will soon find that the treatment has begun to "take." And that your mind is clearing. Do not struggle violently; be quiet, but insistent. Each time you find your attention wandering, switch it back to God.

Do not try to think in advance what the solution to your difficulty will be. This is called "outlining" and will only delay the demonstration. Leave the question of ways and means to God. You want to get out of your difficulty that is sufficient. You do your half, and God will never fail to do God's.

by Emmet Fox
Early 20th Century

Saturday, April 16, 2011

United We Stand. A Brotherhood of Man.

An oldie from the 1970's, but the message still stands. Now more than ever!

Muslims For Peace (the kid version).

Heal The World.

What is the missing element? Love your neighbor as you love yourself. We've all heard the phrase, now let's try living it!

Muslims For Peace.

To Love Is To Be There

"To Love is to be there." -Thich Nhat Hanh

Our minds seem to be constantly moving from past to future. Rarely do we rest in the Present Moment. The time we spend dwelling on the past does not help us, and the time we spend in worry about what the future may bring takes energy away from us. Only in the Present Moment do we have the opportunity to accept the past and build a better future by truly being in the moment and being available to those we love in the Here and Now. For our sake, as well as for the benefit of others, let us find the time to embrace the Present Moment and to Be Here Now!



Music. The Quitter

Seth Breitman...

True Spirituality and Forgiveness.

What is the measure of any system of spirituality? Its ability to forgive.

People Uniting For Good. Kabbalah Congress 2010.

Everything Comes From Above - Unity Sessions

Friday, April 15, 2011

What Did Jesus Really Teach?

This is a question I have found asked in blogs, on UTube, and in churches of all denominations. What did Jesus really teach? Of course each person who asks this question usually believes that they have the answer. They tend to think that Jesus taught whatever it is that they believe...that which is approved by their church or religious denomination. But really, what did Jesus teach? How can we find out? Where do we turn to for this information?

I believe the answer to this question lies in the earliest documents which survive from the era of the early 1st century Jesus Movement; namely The Sermon On The Mount, The Didache, and what has come to be known as the "Lost Gospel of Q" or simply "Q". All these documents are now thought to represent the teachings of the Jesus Movement prior to the year 70 of the Common Era, although some scholars do disagree on some of these dates. But there is enough consensus to begin a reconstruction of the earliest Gospel of Jesus...a Gospel which stresses these basic points:

1. Love God who created you.

2. Love your neighbor as yourself, doing unto others as you would have others do unto you.

3. Love your enemies. Bless those who curse you. Forgive and you will be forgiven.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sunday April 3, 2011. Meditation at "The Rustic Hermitage".

Yesterday was a wonderful time of new discovery in old places.  Due to the presence of other private retreat groups we were unable to meet in our usual location for meditation.  Instead we had the opportunity to use a new facility which we otherwise might have missed, the "Rustic Hermitage" located at The Hermitage Spiritual Retreat Center in Pittsburg Mo.  It was a rare treat!

Words really can not describe the place, nor even pictures (alas I forgot the camera!) do justice to it.  But I will take a stab at providing a description any way.  The Rustic Hermitage is a small cabin (about large enough to fit one comfortably and to hold a sitting group of up to 8 snugly) which has been divided into 4 living areas during an individual retreat.  There is an area for sleep with a single bed; an area for prayer and meditation, an area for study, and an area for eating.  There are no walls or obvious dividers on the inside, just one open room separated by function and a slight difference of floor elevation.  The cabin is located deep in the woods of Lake Pomme de Terre in a setting that is quite and peaceful beyond words.  Outside the cabin is a spring stream and water fall which trickles softly past.  Fr. Paul told me we should have a fun and fruitful experience, and he was right.  On our next trip out I will try to take pictures for the websites to give the readers a better understanding as to the peacefulness of the location.  Let it suffice for now to say we had a very peaceful and rewarding meditation far from the world of Koran burning Christian extremists attempting to incite Muslim extremists.  This was an oasis of peace in a desert of fear and misunderstanding.  A peace and closeness to God our world so desperately needs at this time in our history.

Peace and Blessings To All,


Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Despite all outward appearances we are one people; one man with one heart.
Let's start acting like it.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

St Francis Place Meditation Group.

St Francis Place Meditation Group is currently meeting at the Hermitage Spiritual Retreat Center in Pittsburg Mo., just 30 minutes away from Bolivar Mo., and 60 minutes outside of Springfield Mo. We will be meeting Sundays from 2 to 5 PM. Coming atrractions will include a workshop on Meditation and the Art of Crochet taught by Heydi. Those interested in an 11th Step Group should inquire with Ralph, as he is working on bringing one to our area. Will post more details as they become available.


Ralph & Heydi
St Francis Place
Wheatland MO.