Sunday, February 13, 2011
The Virgin Mary (Catholic), or Theotokos (Orthodox)
In most religious traditions, the repetition of a mantra or Holy Name is used as a form of prayer or spiritual practice, as a way to deepen one's connection with God (or Higher Self). This is just as true in Christianity as it is in the more exotic Eastern spiritual paths. Many saints from the Orthodox and Catholic traditions have used the Jesus Prayer or repeated the name of Jesus (Jesu Christi) or Mary (Ave Maria) as a simple but very profound form of unceasing prayer (as Saint Paul recommended).
Mary is often somewhat foreign to Christians who, like myself, have been raised in a Protestant tradition but, once introduced to her, most grow to love her. Mary is the archetypal Divine Mother who is there to nurture us all. In Kathleen Norris's book Meditations on Mary, she shares the story of an East Indian Hindu woman who had a shrine dedicated to Mary in the corner of her home. When asked about this, the woman said, "I am not a Christian, but I love her." Mary, it seems, is everyone's mother.
Below is a beautiful sermon on Mary by one of the leading lights of Western Christianity.
Let us say a few words about this Name
which means "Star of the Sea"
and is so appropriate to the Virgin Mother.
She -- I tell you -- is that splendid and wondrous star
suspended as if by necessity over this great wide sea,
radiant with merit and brilliant in example.
O you, whoever you are,
who feel that in the tidal wave of this world
you are nearer to being tossed about among the squalls and gales
than treading on dry land:
if you do not want to founder in the tempest,
do not avert your eyes from the brightness of this star.
When the wind of temptation blows up within you,
when you strike upon the rock of tribulation,
gaze up at this star,
call out to Mary.
Whether you are being tossed about
by the waves of pride or ambition,
or slander or jealousy,
gaze up at this star,
call out to Mary.
When rage or greed or fleshly desires
are battering the skiff of your soul,
gaze up at Mary.
In dangers, in hardships, in every doubt,
think of Mary, call out to Mary.
Keep her in your mouth,
keep her in your heart.
Follow the example of her life,
and you will obtain the favour of her prayer.
Following her, you will never go astray.
Asking her help, you will never despair.
Keeping her in your thoughts, you will never wander away.
With your hand in hers, you will never stumble.
With her protecting you, you will not be afraid.
With her leading you, you will never tire.
Her kindness will see you through to the end.
Then you will know by your own experience
how true it is that the Virgin's Name was Mary.
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)
For the past week, I have been sticking pretty closely to the straight and narrow with my food and only eating what I already know is okay. My diet has consisted of celery juice, tangerine juice, blueberries, lettuce, tomatoes, radishes, seaweed, buckwheat, and steamed or sautéd vegetables (broccoli, brussel sprouts, green beans, asparagus, cauliflower, sugar snap peas, mushrooms, beets), and lemon juice for flavoring. I have been making vegetable broth and using the broth to cook my buckwheat or sauté my vegetables. All of these foods feel pretty good.
I have experimented with both lentils and garbanzos (chickpeas) several times, but the jury is still out. Neither one gave me a headache, but they did cause my throat to burn. However, there is a cold virus going around, and several people around me are quite sick with it. I can tell that my immune system is fighting it, but it is keeping it at a very low level. So I don't think I am getting a true reading on the beans right now because every time I tried them I felt like it was a distraction to my immune system and took energy away from the task of eliminating the virus from my body. The buckwheat does not do this (and neither do the cook vegetables) and I think this is very much worth noting. Beans are higher in protein (25%) than buckwheat (18%) and I know that viruses thrive on protein. But I don't think that is the whole answer. I suspect it may have to do with the type of protein as well. As Peter D'Adamo N.D. points out in his book Eat Right 4 Your Type, different foods contain different lectins (a type of protein) and, depending on your blood type, certain lectins (and the foods that contain them) are a drain on the immune system. Most people are aware of this concept when it involves wheat gluten (a lectin), but are not aware that other foods can do the same thing in genetically susceptible individuals. That is probably the case here, which certainly makes one wonder whether they should eat a food at all, if that food makes them feel worse when they are fighting a virus. Food for thought!
I also tried some leeks this past week and they messed me up almost as much as the black pepper, so I had my Radionics practioner treat me for that as well. I am planing to try quinoa, sweet potatoes, and winter squash in the near future. One of the wonderful things that is coming out of all this experimenting for myself is that I am discovering all kinds of foods that my dog loves. He is crazy about lentils, garbanzos, quinoa, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and zuccini; however, he does not like pinto beans, asparagus, green beans, mushrooms, or brussel sprouts. So now he is getting a lot more variety in his diet which I like.
I recently learned that the diet of the Japanese Okinawa Islanders was comprised largely of sweet potatoes before 1950, providing almost 70% of total calories. (Please note: the sweet potatoes eaten by the Okinawans is dark purple inside and very high in anthocyanins compared to the cream and yellow colored ones available to us in supermarkets.) They also practice a form of calorie restriction and eat 300 less calories than the mainland Japanese (1700 kcal. verses 2100 kcal per day). Their diet is also very low in fat (6%). Their diet was also low in protein (9%) and high in carbohydrate (85%). Fruit provided less than 1% of total calories, nuts and seeds less than 1%, and vegetables 3% (remember Dr. Doug Graham recommends 2-6% of caloric intake should come from greens)of total calories.You might also find it interesting that the primary caloric source for the mainland Japanese was from rice (54%) and other grains (24%), whereas only 19% of the Okinawan diet is derived from grains. The ratios for the Okinawans was 85/9/6, while those for the mainlanders was 79/13/8, both of which were very close to Dr. Graham's recommendation of 80/10/10. But the source of their carbohydrate calories was very different. The reason that these facts are interesting is that Okinawa has one of the largest populations of centinarians in the world. Since sweet potatoes must be cooked before they can be eaten, it appears that a diet which is mostly cooked can, in fact, support excellent health and longevity (depending, of course, on the particular cooked food consumed). Another group of centinarians from China eats a diet that derives almost 60% of total calories from sweet potatoes. They also practice a form of calorie restriction, eating an average of 1400 kcal. per day. Their diet is also very low in fat. Unfortunately, with globalization, the traditional diets of these population groups has changed somewhat during the past few decades and the number of long-lived healthy individuals is beginning to decline.
Keep your eye on the sunshine, and you will not see the shadows.
Helen Keller (1880-1968)