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Home Is Where the Heart Is

submitted by Larry Pearlman

If Home is where the heart is
Then may your Home be blessed
A shelter from the storms of Life
A place of rest,
And when each day is over
And toil put in its place
Your Home’s dear warmth
Will bring its smile
To light the saddest face!
(John McLeod)

Just the word, “home” evokes a warm feeling in most of us. But we certainly don’t all think of the same image. For those of us who grew up in a home with loving parents and siblings, that scene may spring to mind. For others, it is the safe, loving place they developed with their own children and spouse. Perhaps a cozy little cabin or apartment that you share only with your cat is what warms your heart or even a cardboard box under a bridge with a special blanket.

I have been in small African village huts, Scottsdale mansions, tents in remote Costa Rican jungles, cottages near a lake, teepees in the Arizona mountains, condos on the Florida beach, and many other settings that people called home.

For the past 16 months or so I have been travelling. I have lived in 3 different countries and 4 different states in the US with my longest stay in any one place being 3 months. When asked where I live, I sometimes reply, “I’m homeless.” That is very accurate in the sense that I have no place to decorate, set up furniture, and fill with “stuff.” I have, however, felt right at home during this entire time. Whether staying with friends or relatives, who have been most generous, or literally being on the road staying in motels (don’t ask about the 3 days in Odessa, Texas!), I have been at home.

In theory I have believed for years that I bring “home” with me wherever I go. Living in NJ for 30 years and Arizona for 30 years, however, did not provide me with much opportunity to prove that out. This journey I am now on, along with the one I took in my 20s and describe in my book, Journaling the Journey, gave me that opportunity. Like a crab (well…I AM a Cancer), I found that I was literally taking my home with me. Not the brick and mortar perhaps, but the very essence of what allows one to feel at home – peace, safety, warmth and love.

Home is where the heart is. Many people may interpret that as meaning that their heart, their emotional tie, is always back to the place they consider home, the place where they felt peace, safety, warmth and love, no matter where they happen to be physically. I see it a bit differently. My view is that I bring all of these elements of home with me in my heart – not only for me but also to provide for those with whom I come into contact. When my heart is full of love, then I am in position to offer the peace, safety, warmth and love of home to everyone in my world, whether long-time friend, relative, or new acquaintance. I can BE that “shelter from the storms of life,” that “place of rest.”

What does “home” mean to you? Please express your ideas in a reply to this article. May you always feel at home wherever you are.

Larry retouched by Don ReilyLarry Pearlman is the author of Journaling the Journey: 25 Spiritual Insights to Light The Way. Larry is a personification of the evolution in consciousness that recognizes that spirituality and the material world are not mutually exclusive. While working 32 years in corporate America he has taught courses in “The Art of Creative Living” and served as a faculty member for “The Opening,” an 8 day experiential class in discovering your full potential. He served in the Peace Corps in Ghana 2007-2009 and then lived for three years at Sunrise Ranch, a spiritual community in Colorado, where he hosted a radio show, “Evolution in Consciousness.” For more information, see his website.

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Avoiding “Gravity Attacks”

Fallingsubmitted by Jerry Kvasnicka

The term “gravity attack” is not in any dictionary that I own. As to the time, place and manner of its coinage I know nothing. I first heard it used by one of the presenters at a conference I attended many years ago in Vancouver, British Columbia. Its use brought forth laughter from the one thousand assembled, but I wonder how many could have explained just why they were laughing.

Gravity, as we are all aware, is the force that holds us and the rest of creation on the surface of this planet. It is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as “the quality of having weight” or “the gravitational attraction of the mass of the earth, the moon or a planet for bodies at or near its surface.” But what is a “gravity attack”? Sure the force of gravity doesn’t attack human beings or anything else on the planet! So what have we here? An eternal enigma?

No. My recent experience of what can only be described as a “gravity attack” clarified the term for me. Perhaps an account of this experience will do the same for you. It all started one morning in June when I woke up with a severe throat infection. I immediately began treating it with heavy doses of vitamin C, extra fluids and plenty of rest. After several days it began to abate and I sought to resume normal activity. Within a few hours it was back again, just as painful as before, and this time accompanied by feelings of extreme fatigue which shortly turned into utter exhaustion. I resumed vitamin C, fluids, rest, and even underwent a four-day fast. The throat pattern eventually cleared. But the exhaustion remained and remained and remained.

Day followed day and week followed week, when it seemed I could do nothing more than maintain a prone position on my bed or, on “good” days when I could manage to walk ninety feet, on my chaise lounge outside. Needless to say, over the weeks I tried everything: vitamin C, vitamin E, brewer’s yeast, dessicated liver, Spirulina, fresh vegetable juices, a high-fiber diet, comfrey-pepsin tablets, various herb tea formulations, cayenne pepper, colon irrigations, massage therapy, meditation, special breathing exercises, chanting and, of course, prayer. I even read books on miraculous cures. None of this was to any avail whatsoever. Adding to the frustration was the fact that no one, including a medical doctor, could find anything obviously wrong with me.

This energy crisis continued for two months, with only one brief respite: by what almost seemed to me to be some kind of divine dispensation I found enough strength to attend the above mentioned conference in Vancouver. This offered a glimmer of hope that someday I might resemble a living person again. But upon returning to Colorado the former malaise set in once more. I recall standing in front of the mirror with barely enough strength to put on a necktie. Bending over to pick something up was a supreme ordeal. Even the thought of getting up to change channels on the TV was tiring. (Thank God, I now have a remote!) My weight plummeted to some thirty-five pounds under what is considered to be normal for my height. My closest friends and I were at our wits’ end. Which, as some are aware, may be the beginning of wisdom.

On the day after my alarmed parents jokingly and not so jokingly threatened to forcibly take me to a specialist, I had an hour’s conversation with a trusted mentor, a man whose integrity and sensitivity would qualify him for sainthood were he of that persuasion. After enumerating all of my physical symptoms and the dietary and other measures designed to deal with them, I awaited his reply. It came in the form of a question: “And what do you have going here?”

“Here? Where? What do you mean?” What he meant was, what are my immediate responsibilities on Sunrise Ranch, the spiritual community where I was living at the time, and how am I handling them? While I fully expected to spend our time discussing physical causes such as adrenal insufficiency, intestinal blockage and low blood sugar, to my astonishment and consternation we spent an hour considering whether I was offering sufficient value into my work on Sunrise Ranch! Had he missed the point entirely?

For several days following the conversation I was puzzled, if not bewildered. The implication—that I was not giving value where it was needed and that this had something to do with my condition—seemed utterly preposterous. But one afternoon as I reclined on my lounge chair gazing at cloud formations I suddenly realized it was all true. For several months my mind had indeed been somewhere else: contemplating the future, imagining myself in other environments, busy with a miscellany of spiritual projects that I hoped would materialize some day. Handling my immediate responsibilities had virtually become a matter of going through the motions until I could leave for some kind of service elsewhere—vital service elsewhere to be sure, but still elsewhere, which might as well be nowhere.

“Arise, take up thy bed and walk.” These words seemed to form in the clouds, compelling instant choice. And so, ignoring the stiffness and pain, I arose, picked up the lounge chair and put it away. The “gravity attack” was over.

Habitual failure to express life in the circumstance at hand, to give value right here instead of out there, progressively weakens the physical capacity to the point where it can no longer resist the force of gravity. The resulting disease may be given a variety of names but it is all a manifestation of the same thing—a “gravity attack.” The most effective way to handle such an attack is not, as most seem to think, by a change of diet, a change of climate or a change of psychiatrists. The key is a change of attitude. A person no longer reclines on a lounge chair, waiting for energy to return so that he can proceed with a self-determined course of action. He rises up, gives energy into whatever task is at hand (and it is quite essential that some of these tasks be physical) and thereby generates the energy he needs to move in the way that life opens before him.
(more…)

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Poet Errant

submitted by Ford North

Poet Errant

Wandering through words

Weaving tapestries of whimsy

Waxing the night weird

Left or right?

What to write?

Wrong or right?

Perceptions wild

Expressions wander

Imagining wonder

Stay to the path?

Play to the beat?

Draw within the lines?

Why was traveling

The unknown road

Wrong to go?

Lost in the woods

Adrift at sea

Astray in the desert

Adventure discovered

Unearthed renewed

Found creation

Experimentation

Leads to mutations

Compound compositions

Roving outside limits

Questing for truth

Within the boundaries

New ways expand

Old traditions stand

Playing with words

IMAG1924(1)Ford North is the focus of the sunrise ranch media department. he started in the film industry at the age of 5. he wrote, directed and produced his first feature called “how to love: the movie” in 2004 as a christmass present to himself. he continues to be expressive through his writing of poetry. Ford is discovering the power of sharing through his conscious processing of his spiritual awakening. He uses poetry to express the invisible process so other feel inspired to share their stories so we all benefit from this amazing surrender to what is our journey together.

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More Wisdom from Bumper Stickers

submitted by Jerry Kvasnicka

As I stated in the initial installment of this series I find a lot of wisdom in bumper stickers and keep a list of them handy for illustrating and driving home points I’m seeking to make in casual conversation or more public statements. Bumper stickers seem to have a marvelous ability to reduce a fact or principle to essence and convey the result in a form that, though possibly provocative, is generally palatable and often quite amusing. As I’ve had a life-long interest in metaphysics and spirituality, I find these pithy little messages particularly suitable for challenging fundamentalist extremism and separating genuine spirituality from religious facades and pretensions. So here are some more of my favorites:

JESUS IS COMING, LOOK BUSY

My father was a painting contractor and I worked with him for many years. I recall a time when we were painting a suite of rooms on one of the upper floors of a large office building. During our mid-morning coffee break my father happened to glance out the window at the street below and saw Mr. Hills, the building manager for whom we worked, entering the building. My father, sensing he was coming up to see us, nervously warned, “Hills is coming! Hills is coming!” So we had to immediately put aside our coffee and doughnuts, grab our paintbrushes and act as if we were zealously working away.

I think something similar occurs in the minds of those who expect the return of Jesus: “Surely if the great cosmic supervisor is coming we want to be sure to impress him with our good works! Perhaps this will earn us a more exalted place in heaven. So let’s look as busy as possible doing things that Jesus would like.” This is such a childish attitude. Even if we could assume Jesus is coming again how do we know what he would like? He might well enjoy seeing human beings drinking coffee and eating donuts!

In the Bible it is recorded that when the prophet Samuel was given the task of selecting a new king for Israel he was given this instruction: “Look not on his countenance or the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” Even if Jesus should somehow reappear on this planet do you think he would be impressed by and reward outer appearances of morality or spirituality? I don’t think so. Obviously he would be concerned with the heart, the inner state of the individual.

But let’s get real here: Jesus is not coming again. Even if the being that historically appeared as Jesus should incarnate again on earth it is virtually inconceivable that he or she would be named Jesus. And this being would certainly not come floating down in the sky as some naively imagine but would undergo the natural processes of conception, gestation and birth. Moreover, Jesus himself said at one point, “Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” What this suggests to me is that in order for the Christ Spirit to manifest on earth there must be a spiritual body of people who are centered in and expressing that Spirit. If such a receptive host were present, i.e. a womb of spiritual substance, then it could be possible for what we might call the Lord of Love, the supreme point of focus for this planet, to appear again in the flesh. This clearly puts the responsibility for divine expression squarely upon us, and merely “looking busy” will not suffice.

MEN WHO CHANGE DIAPERS CHANGE THE WORLD

Changing a diaper is certainly not the most glamorous or even pleasant activity that one can engage in. Yet it is something that needs to be done, and if it is done in a right spirit and with love, a very positive influence is extended through the subconscious connections each of us has with the rest of humanity. This applies to every job, every activity no matter how seemingly small and insignificant and no matter how unpleasant. Most of the things we do during a day are menial and part of a daily routine, not exactly calculated to induce ecstasy. But once again, depending on our attitude in handling these things, something wonderfully uplifting and life-enhancing can be brought into the world.
As the custodian of a large building my responsibilities include vacuuming, sweeping floors, cleaning bathrooms and washing all of the coffee cups and other dishes that are used during the day. You might wonder how any of these activities could possibly be thought of as spiritual. And yet the physical act of cleaning has its spiritual counterpart. As I clean something up externally something is happening internally: a cleansing and purifying process is activated in my own consciousness that in turn activates a clearing at some level of the collective consciousness. Yes this happens with any work that is done with a positive attitude and right spirit, but when the work is menial or what some would even consider degrading, and certainly when it involves something as messy and revolting as changing a diaper, I believe the current of blessing that is released into body of humanity is especially strong.

Throughout the 1990s in my work as an elementary school custodian I not only did the daily cleaning work in the school but also often had to clean up some pretty ugly messes left by the children. In an article about my work (“How I Found Fulfillment as a Janitor”) I wrote this: “With regard to any work, what is done matters far less than how it is done; what is accomplished externally is less important than the internal process of the person doing the work. Elucidating the teachings of Carlos Castaneda in Quest magazine, David Copeland describes this dual function as ‘doing one thing, anything in fact, and doing it impeccably, and yet knowing that you are actually doing something else—practicing the warrior’s path by exercising impeccable action and unbending intent.’ In other words, as I give absolute attention to my cleaning responsibilities, doing everything precisely as it should be done, pouring my very being into the handling of each detail, a refined quality of warrior substance is generated on an invisible level and something powerful forms with myself that impacts the cosmic whole.”

Did you ever imagine that simply by changing a diaper you have an opportunity to “practice the warrior’s path” and impact the cosmic whole? And in a most beautiful and transformative way if you’re doing it impeccably and as an expression of the impeccable being that you are in essence. How true it is that “men who change diapers change the world.” And oh yes, the same is true for women!

MY WIFE YES, MY DOG MAYBE, MY GUN NEVER

Believe it or not this could be just a slight exaggeration. I can well imagine a man who would sooner give up his wife and his faithful dog than he would his precious gun. Oh how obsessed many men (and women as well) are with their guns and in the U.S. their assumed Second Amendment right to bear arms. Yes I know it is said that “guns don’t kill, people do.” Yet I wonder how many fewer people would be killed in this country if no one owned a gun.

Mass shootings at a theater in Colorado, a school in Connecticut and the Navy Yard in Washington D.C. have intensified the debate over gun control. Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association, a vehement opponent of any kind of control, has said that a bad guy with a gun can only be stopped by a good guy with a gun. But according to an article in The Daily Banter by Bob Cesca “Guns owned by ‘good guys’ have been responsible for thousands of deaths every year, including the recent spike in children shooting other children using guns legally purchased by adults. In terms of mass shootings, more than 75 percent of all firearms used in mass shootings between 1982 and 2012 were obtained legally by men whom the state considered to be ‘good guys’ at the time of purchase.”

Here are some other gun-related bumper stickers that seem to define the mentality of those who are wedded to their guns: “GOD CREATED MEN BUT WINCHESTER MADE THEM EQUAL”; “HAPPINESS IS A WARM BAZOOKA”; “NEVER MIND THE DOG, BEWARE OF OWNER”; “INSURED BY A .357 MAGNUM”; “I’LL GIVE UP MY GUN WHEN THEY PRY IT FROM MY COLD DEAD FINGERS.” Frankly it’s hard to imagine a sense of identity that has slipped to such a level, a level where personal meaning and significance are absolutely attached to guns and other weaponry, where one’s sense of well-being depends on shooting targets, shooting animals or, God forbid, shooting people. And yet, judging from the impassioned rhetoric of many gun owners, I’m inclined to believe it’s true: life without guns is inconceivable! What level of consciousness does this suggest? It has been stated that “the only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.” A child in an adult body armed with an instrument that can kill. What a grotesque and disturbing image. Surely it is time to grow up!

But I don’t really want to become involved in the gun control debate; in one sense it doesn’t really matter. In their present state human beings will find ways to kill each other whether they have guns or not. For they live in an unreal world created by the human mind armed with its concepts of good and evil. They are identified with externals—with smart phones, SUVs, shopping malls and semiautomatics—rather than with the internal truth of themselves. Underlying it all is a culture of fear, fear that what I have—my home, my family, my country, my beliefs, my life—might be taken from me and so I have to defend myself and my possessions, with guns if necessary. Only when the culture of fear is replaced by a culture based on unconditional love will the problem of gun violence and all other forms of violence be dissolved.

IT USED TO BE WINE, WOMEN & SONG; NOW IT’S BEER, OL LADY & TV

I include this one just for a good laugh, though perhaps we could think of people we know in whom the passion and vitality of youth have crumpled into a stagnant mediocrity. I’m sure it would never happen to us! Midway in my 72nd year I guess I’m being tested somewhat in this regard. Fortunately in the spiritual community where I live there are several others of greater age than I who are providing marvelous examples of vibrant life and passion for purpose, in a sense leaving me without excuse. Wine improves with age and in alignment with the creative process of life so can people.

Jerry K. - 2013Jerry Kvasnicka, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, has had a varied career as a youth minister, a radio news reporter, a writer and editor for several magazines and journals and a custodian with the Loveland, Colorado school district. Jerry currently edits and writes for the spirituality section of the online magazine The Mindful Word. He has lived at the Sunrise Ranch spiritual community in Loveland for twenty-five years. He can be reached at jerry@themindfulword.org.

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Reflections on Beauty

submitted by Larry Pearlman

Sitting on a hillside in Ciudad Colon, Costa Rica, I look past the violet, yellow, and green homes with their red tile roofs to the pretty little town nestled in this verdant valley of hills/mountains. Through the palms and tree leaves swaying in the brisk morning breeze, I see a peaceful blue sky with light, friendly white clouds that join their siblings until they form a solid gray mass at the mountain peaks – not a threatening, rain-bearing mass but rather a subdued gathering of chalk dust on the sky’s blackboard.

I choose to see the beauty before me in these moments knowing that other moments of potential appreciation will be stolen by focus elsewhere – perhaps the effort of walking these steep hills, conversation with another, or simply whatever becomes routine in these few days visiting my friend Richard.

Right now, however, I am struck with the Oneness that connects this scene with the Rocky Mountain backdrop beyond Loveland, Colorado, the rolling ocean in Fort Lauderdale, the natural color profusion of Johannesburg, South Africa, and the breath-stealing, ever-changing hues of the Grand Canyon. So much beauty in this world and it is all connected in the very essence of beauty.

There was a TV show (one of my favorites) called “Highlander”. The catch-phrase of the show was, “There can be only one”. In this context, that meant that those who were immortal had to keep killing each other because, in the end, there could be only one. Yeah, I know – not a great plot line for my favorite show but the guy was REALLY cool and he had a sword! Go ahead – rent the old TV series and tell me you don’t just love it!

But I digress. I really want to consider that catch-phrase in a different context – that of beauty and truth. As I noted above, the essence of beauty is the same, regardless of the form. It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So what is it that makes something “beautiful”? It is an essence that is perceived because the perceiver knows the truth of this essence in their own core.

We feel filled with awe and appreciation when we see a natural scene, a painting, a person, a baby, or hear a symphony, taste an impeccable dish, smell the aromas from a kitchen, or touch the skin of someone we love and it connects us to that essence of beauty.

The next step is to connect the dots and know that “there can be only one”. There is only one beauty because that essence is a single source, manifesting in all of these various, wondrous ways. So when I sit here looking over this beautiful little valley, I am connected to the Grand Canyon, the Atlantic Ocean, the Rocky Mountains, the veldt of South Africa and so much more. I am connected to the beauty that is in you and each other person and creature on the planet.

As I feel that deeply, I begin to know the truth: There can be only One.

Larry retouched by Don ReilyLarry Pearlman is the author of Journaling the Journey: 25 Spiritual Insights to Light The Way. Larry is a personification of the evolution in consciousness that recognizes that spirituality and the material world are not mutually exclusive. While working 32 years in corporate America he has taught courses in “The Art of Creative Living” and served as a faculty member for “The Opening,” an 8 day experiential class in discovering your full potential. He served in the Peace Corps in Ghana 2007-2009 and then lived for three years at Sunrise Ranch, a spiritual community in Colorado, where he hosted a radio show, “Evolution in Consciousness.” For more information, see his website.

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From Externals to Internals: Replacing Religion with Primal Spirituality

submitted by Jerry Kvasnicka

David Karchere, the director of the Sunrise Ranch spiritual community where I live, recently posed this question in a talk he gave to the community: “Why do people create religion, particularly religion that distorts the nature of Being?” He went on to answer his question this way: “Behind a convoluted religion is a person or a people that have lost their innocence. They have lost their primal spirituality and have turned to sophisticated manipulation of the world to try to achieve happiness.”

This manipulation implies that they have focused on something external to themselves to give them a sense of meaning and fulfillment. The fixation on externals takes a variety of forms: a system of doctrines and beliefs, an assortment of sacred objects and relics, a set of rituals and practices, charismatic religious figures, sacred spaces, etc. The religious devotee in effect says, “These things make me holy; they give me salvation; they guaranty my eternal security in heaven. I don’t have to do anything; all I have to do is believe in the efficacy of these things.”

In other words, by believing that something external does it for them, human beings have a convenient excuse for neglecting to do the essential internal work in consciousness that activates primal spirituality—the innate, intuitive knowing of the truth of love and of Being with which we are born. They have in essence divorced themselves from their own reality and created a world of illusion where it becomes necessary to posit some external means of personal and collective salvation. The long history of conflict, corruption and unfathomable misery on this planet provides conclusive proof that such an approach doesn’t work and is fundamentally alien to life.

Religion is not the only form this fixation on externals takes. Human beings have also sought personal and collective salvation in such things as politics, science, money, military force and, more recently, social networking. In fact it could be said that religions have been made out of these things—people and organizations absolutely obsessed with bending the external world to their personal and collective will.

In the talk referenced above David went on to suggest that it is time to replace the distortions of religion with “primal spirituality.” Many in the world, particularly young people, are awakening to this necessity. As is quite clear from observing their exodus from mainline church denominations, they are quite ready to jettison religious orthodoxy in the quest for something genuine. But unfortunately the spiritual path they subsequently embark on in many cases involves more external manipulation or, as David puts it, “more convoluted beliefs, more religious fabrication.” Once again a failure to do the internal work required for authentic spiritual fulfillment.

Donna Visocky, publisher of BellaSpark Magazine, describes something of what is required in these words: “An energetic transformation has and is taking place on the planet, and though it has not exactly manifested in our physical world the way we imagined, it is showing up in us. We can feel it; something has definitely shifted in our core, for the energies are calling us to change. We are all being nudged, guided and sometimes literally pushed into becoming who we were meant to be. The change happening on the planet is an internal one and just as Mother Earth is going through her own rebirth so too are we being born again.”

This new birth is a movement back to primal spirituality, from externals to internals. I can no longer look to something external to impart sacredness and provide salvation. I am called to be my own savior and the savior of my world. How? By simply being who I am, by returning to my own innate, intuitive knowing of the truth. This is accomplished by expressing in everyday living the qualities of true or divine character with which I was endowed simply by virtue of incarnating on earth. Qualities such as integrity, dignity, nobility, honor, courage, patience, stability, generosity, tranquility and many more. This endowment of true values needs to be activated; I won’t know that these qualities are my very nature until I give them expression. Their full expression restores primal spirituality and the awareness of oneness with the divine.

People who come to Sunrise Ranch to participate in our Full Self Emergence program or any of our other classes are essentially invited to do just one thing: come home. Come home, not to some external system of beliefs or teachings, not to some charismatic leader or extraordinary organization, not to some spiritual practice or technique that is guaranteed to put you in touch with God and transform your life. No, just come home to your primal spirit, to your inner core, to the bedrock truth of who you are, and experience this beautiful character by simply revealing it in the supportive spiritual context of the Sunrise community.

So surely it is time to break with the fatal habit of fingering something external that we imagine will do for us what only we can do. Religion and all of its paraphernalia must be replaced by primal spirituality if the world is ever to know anything approximating transformation. And it is all accomplished by simply coming home to and relaxing into the truth of unconditional love at our core and embodying that truth in living.

Jerry K. - 2013Jerry Kvasnicka, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, has had a varied career as a youth minister, a radio news reporter, a writer and editor for several magazines and journals and a custodian with the Loveland, Colorado school district. Jerry currently edits and writes for the spirituality section of the online magazine The Mindful Word. He has lived at the Sunrise Ranch spiritual community in Loveland for twenty-five years. He can be reached at jerry@themindfulword.org.

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Bumper Stickers I Love

bumper sticker #2submitted by Jerry Kvasnicka

I am open to inspiration and insight from any source, and so when a catalog of bumper stickers arrived in the mail for me one day, I decided to open it instead of instinctively throwing it into the recycling bin. I was delightfully surprised by the treasury of wisdom that I found, and I now keep the catalog of these succinct gems on top of my desk so that I can quickly bring them up to illustrate and drive home points I’m seeking to make in casual conversation or more public statements.

Bumper stickers seem to have a marvelous ability to reduce a fact or principle to essence and convey the result in a form that, though possibly provocative, is generally palatable and often quite amusing. As I’ve had a life-long interest in metaphysics and spirituality, I find these pithy little messages particularly suitable for challenging fundamentalist extremism and separating genuine spirituality from religious facades and pretensions. So here are some of my favorites:

WE ARE SPIRITUAL BEINGS HAVING A PHYSICAL EXPERIENCE

Our essence is spiritual, not physical. We are here in physical form on earth to release and experience this spiritual essence. We are certainly not the products of evolution out of primeval slime. We as creator beings were here first and the rest of creation in effect devolved out of us. Yet human beings have believed and acted as though exactly the opposite were true—that they somehow evolved out of lower forms of life and are thereby relegated to a subhuman existence that must forever struggle to rise out of the human condition, perhaps only in some kind of heavenly afterlife.

No, it is right here on earth that we belong. This is the arena for action; this is why we incarnated—to bring heaven down here. Human religions have, in effect, turned the bumper sticker around: WE ARE PHYSICAL BEINGS TRYING TO HAVE A SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE. When this physical origin of human beings is accepted, the only recourse for attempting to experience something spiritual is for the human mind to develop concepts and beliefs of what it thinks spirituality might be like. So this is what it has done and this is what religions are—piles and piles of human concepts, fabrications, by-products of human imagination. Considering the deplorable world of illusion that has been created on this basis, isn’t it about time we got back to reality? WE ARE SPIRITUAL BEINGS HAVING A PHYSICAL EXPERIENCE!

WHEN YOU’RE OVER THE HILL, YOUR SPEED PICKS UP

It is commonly assumed that as you age, you slow down, physically, mentally and in every other way. But I’m discovering that those who are spiritually alive, who are aligned with the creative process of life, actually pick up speed in terms of mental and even physical dexterity, artistic ability and across-the-board creative capacity. I’m now in my seventy-second year, no doubt qualifying for over-the-hill status, and while there are a few physical tasks that I now find slightly challenging, the rest of my capacities are fully on line. And then some! Wisdom does indeed come with age, and with wisdom comes an acceleration of creative output.

The increase of speed that is possible to older individuals is also possible to older organizations, older communities and older movements, provided once again that they are spiritually aligned with the way things work. The spiritual community where I live (Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, Colorado) is now sixty-eight years old, probably one of the oldest intentional communities in the United States. The communal wisdom accumulated over these years has allowed for an expansion of our capacity to welcome and encompass people. We frequently host groups of around one hundred people for a week or ten days at a time, and last summer Sunrise was the setting for the Arise Festival, bringing several thousand people to our land. In these “senior years” our speed has definitely picked up!

GET INVOLVED…THE WORLD IS RUN BY THOSE WHO SHOW UP

Several years ago, being unemployed and having very little money, I applied for a job as a janitor and was hired. My initial assignment was just two nights a week cleaning the offices of a power company. Turnover among janitorial employees is high because many just don’t show up consistently. Because I consistently showed up I was promoted to three nights a week as part of a crew cleaning a large recreational facility, and then a few months later I was made supervisor of a six-person team cleaning an enormous computer manufacturing complex five nights a week. I don’t believe my success in this field was due to any particular cleaning prowess but rather to the realization by the owners of the janitorial company that they had a “golden employee,” a man who unfailingly showed up for every job, always ahead of time, and followed through until everything was done.

So many people in our world just don’t bother to consistently show up for the physical jobs they have to do, costing the economy billions of dollars. But far more costly is the failure to show up for the spiritual work we have to do. This is why we incarnated after all. In the spiritual community where I live there are frequent gatherings where concentrated spiritual work is done, work that generates a current of radiant blessing to be offered into the body of humanity. How important it is to show up for these times. Even if nothing is said, just a person’s presence brings so much power and influence in terms of providing an additional sounding board for the spiritual tone that is being sounded. Oh how the universe longs for people of quality who consistently show up to offer their highest and finest in every circumstance!

GOD, PROTECT ME FROM YOUR FOLLOWERS!

Those who purport to follow God can be some of the most ruthless and murderous people on the planet. To cite just one example, the Lord’s Resistance Army is a guerrilla group operating in South Sudan, the Congo and the Central African Republic. Its tactics include mutilation, torture, slavery, rape, the abduction of civilians, the use of child soldiers and massacres. The movement is led by Joseph Kony, who proclaims himself the spokesperson of God and a spirit medium. There are a large number of militant Islamic fundamentalist groups in the Middle East, including the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, particularly noted for its brutal treatment of women and strict enforcement of Sharia law.

While the excesses of Islamic extremism, where many are ready to kill for their faith, are rare in the United States, extremism of a different kind thrives in many fundamentalist churches. Preachers, sincerely believing they are speaking the Word of God, may not threaten to kill non-believers in this life but they do threaten hellfire and damnation in the “next life” unless a particular salvation formula is accepted. And, really, any form of proselytizing, any effort, no matter how polite, to impose one’s beliefs on another is equivalent to violently invading the sanctity of their being.

Yes, God, please protect me from your followers! The question is, do they really know You? A follower, by definition, is separate from God and can only develop concepts and beliefs about God, and considering the collection of superstitions and fantasies evident in the world’s religions, these ideas concocted by the human mind are way off the mark. I don’t think God wants followers; God, the Creator, Universal Being—however God is defined—wants leaders, people who are willing to take responsibility for being God in action on earth, people who don’t see any separation between themselves and the Creator and therefore don’t fabricate ideas about God. The latter can be dangerous!

CHANGE IS INEVITABLE, GROWTH IS OPTIONAL

It has been said that the only constant is change. This especially rings true at this point in the 21st century where massive changes are taking place in climate, politics, culture, the world economy, etc. If one is able to roll with these changes, easily adapting to them and even using them as springboards for growth and additional creative action, then all is well on the personal level and something positive is put into the collective consciousness of the body of humanity. But human beings are notorious for resisting change and seeking to preserve the status quo at all costs. For many the prospect of change seems terribly frightening and they will fight even to the death to prevent it.

One example that comes to mind is the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia. The ban has been supported by the county’s intransigent Islamic clerical establishment. Clerics reportedly believe that lifting the ban and generally giving women more freedom would lead to increased premarital sex and adultery. Saudi security officials have said that “enforcing the ban is part of protecting the monarchy against sedition.” Saudi Arabia also forbids women from travelling abroad, opening a bank account or working without permission from a male relative. Even Saudi King Abdullah acknowledges that women will someday drive in the country, but for now he and other officials there have opted to resist change and the growth opportunity that accommodating change brings.

The classic musical that illustrates resistance to change is “Fiddler on the Roof,” Tevye, the father of five daughters, tries to keep his family and Jewish religious traditions intact in the face of strong pressures to let go of these customs from his three older daughters. There is mounting pressure in these days on all religious and cultural traditions. The creative process of life simply will not be blocked anymore by the structures in human consciousness, no matter how old and how revered these structures are. To put it bluntly, human beings are increasingly being given the choice to either let go and grow or dig in and die.

Lest we end on a down note, here is an auspicious bumper sticker for all who are willing to let go and grow.

SOMETHING WONDERFUL IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN

Jerry K. - 2013Jerry Kvasnicka, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, has had a varied career as a youth minister, a radio news reporter, a writer and editor for several magazines and journals and a custodian with the Loveland, Colorado school district. Jerry currently edits and writes for the spirituality section of the online magazine The Mindful Word. He has lived at the Sunrise Ranch spiritual community in Loveland for twenty-five years. He can be reached at jerry@themindfulword.org.

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Thriving with Gratitude – November 2013 Newsletter

Dear Sunrise Friends and Family,

It is great to connect with you at this time of year. The changing of the seasons has brought a bounty from the farm and garden, enjoyed by our friends and conference guests. We appreciate the energy and blessings that everyone brings and generates here.

We wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving season, as we continue to express our thanks for the many blessings in our lives.

From your family and friends at Sunrise Ranch

Courage

“The word thriving feels so full of life, such a gorgeous way to describe the fullness of just being present…. The deep internal experience of being at home is felt by just being present in the energy field around us.”    ~ Ruth Buckingham

 

David Karchere Whole Man Expo

David Karchere at Whole Man Expo ~ David delivered the keynote address to an enthralled audience at the 3rd Annual Whole Man Expo on November 10 in Denver, CO. He is the spiritual director at Sunrise Ranch, a 68-year-old spiritual community; David’s address was entitled Creating Thriving Community. His passion and profound sense of purpose came through powerfully as he spoke about the importance of wholeness  as the foundation for a spiritually regenerated and consciously aware world. “Whole person, Whole Community, Whole World.” David shared ways in which people can live their convictions and take inspired action to serve in their neighborhoods and extended communities.

Sunrise Ranch Outreach at Whole Man Expo

Sunrise Ranch Outreach Team supporting David at the Whole Man Expo—Artem Nikulkov and Rachel Morrison

 

Joel Salatin at Sunrise Ranch

Joel Salatin, Michael Costello and Joe Nowicki at the Farm on Sunrise Ranch

Joel Salatin at Sunrise Ranch ~ Can we feed the World? HOW CAN WE AFFORD IT? These were two of the topics that Joel spoke about at The Dome on November 8th. Joel was lively, funny and thought-provoking, as he spoke about what Americans love to buy, while challenging the very assumptions of a cheap-food policy. His passionate energy for a healthy world came through, following a wonderfully nutritious and delicious Farm-to-Table meal that Chef Joel and our Culinary Academy team prepared for supper! The answer to the question “Can we feed the world?” is a resounding YES! Buying unprocessed food and being able to prepare, package and preserve at home are key ingredients to eating healthy food at a lower cost. Joel exhibits his courage as he addresses the externalized, unrecognized, undocumented costs of industrial food and the unfair playing field created by subsidy programs. His main focus is on local solutions that are available to everyone.

Joel Salatin at the Dome at Sunrise Ranch

Over 250 people came to hear Joel Salatin, introduced by Monica Corrado (above), in The Dome at Sunrise Ranch

Joel Salatin and Monica Corrado in The Dome at Sunrise Ranch

Joel Salatin and Monica Corrado after Joel’s talk  in The Dome at Sunrise Ranch

 

Post by Sunrise Ranch Culinary Academy. (Facebook video post)

 

Moon rise over Sunrise Ranch

It’s the end of Fall marked by a beautiful moonrise at Sunrise Ranch.

 

Culinary Academy at Sunrise Ranch

Sunrise Ranch Culinary Academy Graduating Class

The first Sunrise Ranch Culinary Academy Graduating Class – 2013 with Executive Chef Joel Navejas

 

NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR 2014 Sunrise Ranch Culinary Academy!

Begins April 14, 2014

Download the application for the Culinary Academy now. E-mail completed application to jnavejas@emnet.org. You may also use this e-mail address to contact Chef Joel if you have any questions. Upon review of your application, Chef Joel will contact you with further information.

 

Click on video to hear about the Sunrise Ranch Culinary Academy!

Culinary Delight at Sunrise Ranch

Wonderful Pork Chop, Wild Rice and Salad cuisine at Sunrise Ranch

Upcoming Events:

Healing Chant ~ Friday, Dec 6, 7:30 pm — Saturday, Dec 7, 6 pm

healing chant SR 131206

Register Here

 

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Change: Navigating Life Transitions – December 14

Change - Navigating Life Transitions - 12-2013

 Register Here

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Attunement Certification Training at Sunrise Ranch – Jan 22-25 and Feb 20-22

Attunement School 2014 small

 Register Here

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Calendar2011 Please visit our Calendar of Events for more opportunities! Click HERE

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 Sunrise Ranch Blog

blog

 Spreading the Light by Jerry Kvasnicka

Spreading the Light

Submitted by Dylan Leigh

Hello, I attended your Arise music festival and got way more than I was expecting. Sitting under the willow trees by the Dome after a long night and beautiful sunrise, I had a conversation with the light. Then a security guard named Gabriel spoke with me and confirmed that the conversation I had was as “real” as I needed it to be.

I thought this feeling would end once I left the ranch and for a moment I hoped it would. The weekend continued: fun, dancing, learning, growth, expansion, and transformation all ensued. But this feeling is growing and the light is spreading through me to the world.

I am the student body president of Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, and am using my position to spread light. Words cannot express how grateful I am to you all. During service in the Dome on Sunday, I met David Karchere. We hugged each other and I made a sacred obligation to never give up, and as he said “no matter what.” Thanks, I would love to visit you again and help with anything ya’ll are doing. If nothing else, I hope you hear my story and can see your ripples spreading. Drop me a line anytime. (drleigh@fortlewis.edu)

CLICK HERE to read more
 

AROUND THE RANCH

Fall at the Dome Sunrise Ranch

Fall at the Dome Sunrise Ranch photo 2

Fall at the Dome

Elk at Sunrise Ranch

The Elk are back at Sunrise Ranch

"Crescendo" Bronze Sculpture at Sunrise Ranch

“Crescendo” Bronze Sculpture at Sunrise Ranch

Emissaries of Divine Light (EDL)

 Excerpt from The Pulse of Spirit:  Being Fully Present ~

What really has my full attention today is Presence, just being fully here. Recently we Ruth Buckinghamwere considering the feeling experience of solitude. This has to do with being present, fully aware of all the thoughts and feelings going on inside oneself. It has to do with being in Being and just being fully surrendered to the moment.

In thinking about what I might share this morning, these words came to me:

I come as a voice from ages past.
I come to bring comfort and solace—
but not before I have rearranged every cell in your body!

We cannot live fully in that place of Being without everything we thought we knew being rearranged. And coming to that shiny new place, we recognize it as home.

 Click HERE to read more

 

<— click to “Like” our “Pulse of Spirit” Facebook Community Page

Attend Life Destiny Immersion at Sunrise Ranch, headquarters of the Emissaries of Divine Light

Life Destiny Immersion

1 - 2 November 2013
This seminar is an exploration of what is most important to you and an opportunity to allow your passion to shape the direction of your life.
More | Register

Attend Joel Salatin in The Dome at Sunrise at Sunrise Ranch, headquarters of the Emissaries of Divine Light

Joel Salatin in The Dome at Sunrise

8 November 2013
Joel Salatin is a third-generation organic farmer and author, whose family owns and operates Polyface Farm in Virginia. CAN WE FEED THE WORLD? This is hands down the most frequently asked question to Joel or anyone else who promotes localized, solar-driven, carbon-fertilized systems.
More| Register

Attend 7-Day Mondo Zen Sesshin at Sunrise Ranch, headquarters of the Emissaries of Divine Light

7-Day Mondo Zen Sesshin

9 - 16 November 2013
This 7-day Mondo Zen retreat provides experiential understanding of Mondo Zen, Rinzai Zen & a fierce yet compassionate invitation to awaken to who you are.
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Attend Healing Chant Retreat at Sunrise Ranch at Sunrise Ranch, headquarters of the Emissaries of Divine Light

Healing Chant Retreat at Sunrise Ranch

6 - 7 December 2013
Led by David Karchere and Chris Bullock - with Guest Chant Leaders
More | Register

Attend Change: Navigating Life Transitions at Sunrise Ranch, headquarters of the Emissaries of Divine Light

Change: Navigating Life Transitions

14 December 2013
If you are in the midst of a life transition and are looking for a way to sort it out and make sense of it all, this course can open a gateway to the next you.
More | Register

Attend Living Fully, Loving Well: A New Year's retreat with David Chernikoff at Sunrise Ranch, headquarters of the Emissaries of Divine Light

Living Fully, Loving Well: A New Year's retreat with David Chernikoff

27 - 31 December 2013
In a caring, supportive environment, we'll practice sitting and walking meditation in silence. Using guided experiential exercises, we'll review the year that is ending and set our intentions for the year to come.
More| Register

How to visit or get involved at Sunrise Ranch:

Convenient to Denver International Airport, yet far away from the bustle of daily life, Sunrise Ranch is a conference and retreat center located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

 Drop in and visit! Tour our garden, walk the labyrinth, sit by the pond, watch the animals, have a meal and enjoy the scenery. Please call and let us know you are coming—Toll free: 877-786-0078 or direct: 970-679-4200.

 Attend a Sunrise Ranch community event, class or retreat. To view our calendar - click HERE

 Sign up for a retreat or workshop held at Sunrise Ranch—many gifted teachers, presenters and facilitators hold their events at Sunrise Ranch, including programs in Personal Growth, Spiritual Life, Healing and Wellness, Sustainability, and Creative Arts!

 Plan your own retreat/workshop at Sunrise Ranch—Convenient to Denver International Airport, yet far away from the bustle of daily life, Sunrise Ranch is a conference and retreat center located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Whether you’re planning a Colorado personal retreat, wedding, board retreat, or workshop, we have the ideal venue for you! * Variety of Meeting Spaces – Comfortable Accommodations – Affordable Rates – Delicious, Wholesome Meals – Attractive Amenities * You will be offering your event as part of a powerful, internationally known, rapidly expanding program. Your participants will enjoy an unmatched atmosphere that deeply enhances their experience. All of this AND easy on your budget. Truly a WIN-WIN situation!

 Residential programs: We offer many unique opportunities to participate in residential programs, including Full Self EmergenceCulinary Academy, Integrated Holistic Agriculture, Garden Internships, and Permaculture Work/Study, for periods ranging from a week to eighteen months. Sunrise Ranch Spiritual Retreat Center has programs that empower personal transformation and world service; conference facilities for leading-edge organizations; opportunities to participate in our 350-acre ranch and farm; connection with like-minded people in this multifaceted spiritual community. Sunrise Ranch is the headquarters for Emissaries of Divine Light, a global spiritual network.

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The Magic of Music

submitted by Jerry Kvasnicka

music notes

I don’t know the name of the selection or the pianist performing it. When the simple jazz improvisation came over my radio one afternoon, almost instinctively I activated my cassette recorder. Since that day I have played the piece often. The notes are clear and sparkling, the chords rich and evocative, the melody delightfully elusive and a bit bewitching, the overall texture sublimely smooth. It resonates with a deeper tone of my being and seems to play out the times and seasons of my entire life span. At once calming and quickening, meditative and provocative, it unfailingly induces a spiritual experience in the finest sense of this term.

You need not trouble your mind or heart over the identity of this “magical” piece or the record album it comes from. Nor should you come to Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, Colorado, where I live and ask me to play it for you. The experience is subjective. To put it crudely, what it does for me it may not and most likely will not do for you. On the other hand, there may be a composition or a particular vocal or instrumental rendering of a composition that engenders a similar experience in you and which may very well leave me cold. Music is a very personal commodity.

But music does indeed have a certain magic to it. Lift words from a page and put them into a song and note the increase of pathos and power. Music was the focus and force of the revolutionary currents moving in the late sixties when life opened up for so many in a singular way. It can spread new values through a culture, perhaps more quickly and effectively than any other art form or medium of communication. It has played a key role in the great religions of the world down through the ages, indeed in the life of man throughout his history.

Why? Because music provides a direct channel into the heart. It penetrates to those levels beneath the surface mind, from which our deepest motivations and impulses spring. Just as certain colors can generate definite physical and psychological changes in a person, so can tones and combinations of tones. Depending on the nature and quality of these tones and how they correlate with the substance present in a given individual, the influence brought into the subconscious mind may be purifying or contaminating, creative or destructive. Hence the need for a certain amount of care as to what sounds we allow into our ears.

Of course there are times when there is little or no choice. Those who live in large cities, particularly in the vicinity of airports, factories or expressways, are subjected to a good deal of noise pollution. An article in Psychology Today considers this growing problem and cites a number of studies which suggest that not only does excessive and prolonged noise adversely affect hearing and physical health but that emotional and psychological health may be impaired as well. Quoting from the article:

Industrial surveys show that exposure to noise increases self-reported anxiety and emotional stress. Workers habitually exposed to very high-intensity noise show increased incidence of nervous complaints, nausea, headaches, instability, argumentativeness, sexual impotence, mood changes and anxiety.

Obviously sound has a powerful influence on the emotional realm. And if destructive sound can cause or aggravate psychological injury, does it not follow that creative sound can be of value in restoring and maintaining psychological well-being?

At a human unity conference in Vancouver that I attended several years ago a workshop was offered entitled “Your Inner Tone of Sound: The Natural Healing of Sound and Music.” The workshop leader emphasized that all music consists of tension and release. On the tension side of the continuum we might find progressive jazz, heavy medal and orchestral pieces by some modern composers. At the tension extreme would be sound scarcely distinguishable from noise. The release side of the continuum might include music that serves as a background for guided meditations and of course what is called “Muzak,” with its soft, sweet, soothing sounds.

The ideal, according the workshop leader, is somewhere in between. Too much release, even if the objective is relaxation or meditation, is fatiguing. Our minds instinctively desire to bring order out of chaos. If there is no novelty, if the sound we are listening to is little more than a monotone, then there is no opportunity for the mind to exercise its ordering function. In the absence of creative challenge a rather uncomfortable malaise eventually sets in.

In the workshop seven elements of music were presented: rhythm, melody, harmony, color, texture, duration and volume. Tension or release may be achieved in relation to each of these elements, as suggested by the following table.

Elements of Sound/Music                               Tension                                Release
Rhythm                                                               Syncopation                        Consistency
Melody                                                                 Tritone                                Perfect Interval
Harmony                                                              Dissonance                         Consonance
Color                                                                     Dark                                     Light
Texture                                                                Rough                                  Smooth
Duration                                                               Long                                     Termination
Volume                                                                 Loud                                     Soft

Knowing how tension and release may be varied in relation to these factors should help one to produce and select music that is in line with a specific purpose, whether that purpose be relaxation, stimulation, meditation or healing.

And so a certain artistry in handling music and sound of all kinds may be developed, not for the purpose of manipulating moods and human behavior but as a natural complement to the increasing artistry with which we handle everything that appears in our worlds. As our creative capacities enlarge in this way, music in which the factors of tension and release are properly balanced is called forth from the world and transformative experiences such as that described in the opening paragraph of this article become increasingly common. So is the “lost chord” of the Moody Blues found and the music of the spheres is released to work its magic once again on earth.

Jerry K. - 2013Jerry Kvasnicka, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, has had a varied career as a youth minister, a radio news reporter, a writer and editor for several magazines and journals and a custodian with the Loveland, Colorado school district. Jerry currently edits and writes for the spirituality section of the online magazine The Mindful Word. He has lived at the Sunrise Ranch spiritual community in Loveland for twenty-five years. He can be reached at jkvasnicka@emnet.org

 

 

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A Leader

submitted by Ford North

great leaders

are the

greatest followers

they follow
some “thing” greater

than themselves

leaders surrender to the guidance

of spirit – in whatever form it takes

that presents itself to them

a leader follows this guidance

so completely

that they look like a leader

that others want to follow

follow the leader following
spirit.

IMAG1924(1)Ford North is the focus of the sunrise ranch media department. he started in the film industry at the age of 5. he wrote, directed and produced his first feature called “how to love: the movie” in 2004 as a christmass present to himself. he continues to be expressive through his writing of poetry. Ford is discovering the power of sharing through his conscious processing of his spiritual awakening. He uses poetry to express the invisible process so other feel inspired to share their stories so we all benefit from this amazing surrender to what is our journey together. .

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