An Open Letter to #FreeNazanin

 

 

An Open Letter to Nazanin Ratcliffe

On April 3, 2016, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a 37 year old charity worker, was arrested without formal charges by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard at the airport. She was returning to the UK after a visit with her parents. The passport of her 22 month old daughter, Gabriella, was confiscated. Gabriella is in the custody of her grandparents. Richard Ratcliffe, Nazanin’s husband, is trying all avenues to obtain his wife’s release. She remains in prison.

Dear Nazanin,

I am one of the over 800,000 people around the globe who have signed the petition at Change.org requesting your release from prison in Iran. There are countless stories of social injustices and people wrongfully imprisoned. No one person can embrace or follow them all without going mad. However, your story ~ your face, your child, your parents, your husband ~ has become personal to me. It may be because you are near the age of my daughters and your darling Gabriella could be my grandchild. The idea of you wasting away in a prison cell, separated from your toddler and husband, Richard, trapped as a political pawn, hurts my heart.

nazanin-ratcliffe-2I’d like to apologize to you, Nazanin. I’m very sorry that as part of the older generation, the one that was supposed to make the place a safer, kinder, more loving place, we have failed miserably. The fact that two countries, in this case Great Britain and Iran, find it acceptable to punish you for their political disagreements, is reprehensible. With all the technological achievements the human race has made in the past decades, we have come no closer healing old grievances. Consequently, your little girl receives no good answers as to why her mother has lost all freedoms. She is barred from seeing her father and can’t go home. The sadness and fears of her grandparents’ situation must be leaving an indelible impression.

And for what? Because Great Britain never paid an old debt to Iran? Or perhaps you are being held as a bit of collateral for a later political deal. The power players may think themselves very clever, but it’s a weary game that nobody ever wins. I’m sorry, Nazanin, that civilization hasn’t broken through old patterns and risen to something smarter, kinder, and compassionate.

But know this, Nazanin. I am praying for you every day. I am one of many. I know you’ve felt like giving up. You’ve even stopped eating, become sick and despondent. Everyday I send you ribbons of energy and color. In my mind’s eye I imagine a different color uplifting you. I hope that on a physical level those colors manifest themselves to you in a tangible form of encouragement.

I even pray for your captors, your guards and handlers. I pray they treat you well and offer you moments of grace. Of course, I include your husband, daughter, and parents in my meditations. They need all the strength they can muster.

nazaninThis world is really a very small place. Rulers of little countries vying for power is ridiculous from a higher viewpoint ~ like watching one army of ants battle another army of ants on the jungle floor. I pray for the day that small-minded leaders give way to humans of higher intelligence offering positive creative solutions to the self-inflicted problems of the present.

It’s time to say, enough. The old ways have not served us well. Let us find new ways to create a better society for all the inhabitants of Planet Earth.

Until then, I will continue to pray for you, Nazanin. I hope you sense the Light overcoming the Darkness.

Sincerely,

Dana Taylor

Read More about Nazanin

Iran Hold Briton as Arms Deal Bargaining Chip

Nazanin Radcliffe Held Without Charge

Sign Petition at Change.Org

 

What happened to Matthew 25:34-40?

th-7  In the past few weeks images of the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernadino, alongside the pictures of desperate Syrians jumping off flimsy rubber boats, or worse, their children’s corpses washing up on the beach, have rendered me fairly mute. Are there words eloquent enough to express the heart wrenching emotion of these events? Is there any wisdom to offer making sense of this global chaos? What is an appropriate response to madness? 

FILE - In this Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015 file photo, a Syrian refugee child sleeps in his father's arms while waiting at a resting point to board a bus, after arriving on a dinghy from the Turkish coast to the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos. Bold ideas for helping Syrian refugees and their overburdened Middle Eastern host countries are gaining traction among international donors who were shocked into action by this year's migration of hundreds of thousands of desperate Syrians to Europe. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen, File)

(AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen, File)

th-8Then there’s The Donald and others waving Bibles while spouting rhetoric filled with fear, anger and vengeance representing the face of American Christianity. As a follower of Christ myself, I want to tell the world, those people do not represent me.

But where is there somebody offering a Christian message as I understand it? Where’s the Jesus guy who stands with the poor, the whores, and the sick? Where’s the teacher who forgives 70 times 70 and turns back a killing mob by suggesting “he without sin cast the first stone?”

What happened to Matthew 25:34-40?

‘Come you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ and the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it one to of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Awards, Xander TaylorI recently  took my daughter’s suggestion and listened to #47 of the RobCastRob Bell‘s interview with British evangelical leader, Steve Chalke. While famous in England, he was unknown to me. Chalke was born in South London, a poverty-entrenched area. His accent reveals his roots, a “bloke” of the common class. Of unremarkable parentage, society didn’t expect much from him. At age 14 he was attending a Baptist youth group, mainly to be close to a pretty girl he fancied. Though she rejected him, he discovered the Christian message and relationship with spirit that set his thinking apart from those around him.

One night on a walk home after church, he received a vision of himself. He would open schools, hostels, and run hospitals. He would work with the disenfranchised, the abused, neglected. Society’s rejects.

In other words, he would represent Christ on earth in very practical ways. When he was 24, he and his wife, Cornelia, founded their first hostel for abused teens and named it The Oasis. That was the beginning. Bringing his vision to fruition, he took over management of violent, failing schools and dilapidated churches and shepherded them into places of vitality, kindness, and success.

288743_503411136339400_1953442212_o Much like Father Greg Boyle and Homeboy Industries is transforming the gang culture of Los Angeles, Chalke is working from the inside out of a rotting British society to restore and renew people through the simple message of love and compassionate action that Christ taught.

They may not be the loudest voices in the din, these workers of the Light. They aren’t followed around by media hounds trying to get the next sound bite. Like Mother Teresa, like Salvation Army Founders William and Catherine Booth, and countless other ministries across the globe, the followers of Christ are feeding the poor, helping the widows, and sharing the good news of God’s love. It’s that simple and easily overlooked in the noise and chaos of politics and anger.

I hope that in the next elections I have the opportunity to vote for someone who lives by the standard ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it one to of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Even if I don’t, I’ll keep supporting the people who live by that philosophy because it’s clear to me that is the true path to peace on earth.

jesus_embracing_kid_

It was the way Christ fought the terrorists of his time and still the best model for us today.  The Light still overcomes the Dark.

Listen Here: Steve Chalke and the Oasis Story

For more information visit:

Oasis, UK    Homeboy Industries  Tattoos on the Heart

 

 

Beyond Your Wildest Dreams: A Supernaltation

My journaling appears to be taking on new dimensions. Thoughts seem to be coming through me, rather than from me. All part of the ever-evolving Supernal Adventure, I guess. Here is an entry from last May that I feel nudged to share today. Many blessings– Dana 

colorful sunset

colorful sunset

Supernal Journal, May 3, 2015

Jesus said, I am the vine. You are the branches. No one come to the Father but by me. I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

These words are still strong and true. They show the open door, the gate to heaven. They aren’t meant to keep people out, to exclude, but are a light shining the path to joy. So many are lost, wandering in the dark.

I shine a Light on the path to joy and the starlight luminescence of God. I gather my loved ones like a Good Shepherd. I want no one lost or afraid. Come to me and find the peace that goes beyond understanding.

I Am Love. Love is a state of Being, a high energy. An action. From that energy comes inspiration to work in love and kindness. I am All Inclusive. The portal is open. All may enter. A host of angels is waiting to greet you home. Peace I give you. Peace I leave you. Walk in my peace.

You conduit my Light into the planet. It radiates through and around you. In your words, in your actions, in your silence. You don’t need to “do.” You may simply “be.” Be like a tuning fork vibrating at my calibration. Carry my note, my tune, wherever you go.

Sing to the beauty of creation. Rejoice in it. Cherish it. Take good care of it. Love it. Look to the sky. Look up. See the dancing clouds, the wind, the rain, the blue sky, the birds on wing. They are part of the symphony of the earth.

It is beyond your wildest dreams, all the Love I have to share and want to give to my children, my flock. If only they will open their hearts, open their eyes, open their ears. I am calling. I am waiting. I am loving.

Happiness is always bittersweet, full of joy, remembering moments of sorrow. Choose to live in the Light.

How The OKC Bombing Affected Me


April 19, 1995, 9:02 am ~ Edmond, OK

Crack…the walls of my home shudder. I think, Something terrible just happened.

796d6a29dd6256e8b67721d37cfd473a

This weekend marks twenty years since the Oklahoma City Bombing of the Murrah Building heralded a new era of  global terrorism. At the time I was a suburban housewife, raising my family in a “safe” little community, in a “safe” state (not counting the tornadoes.)

The days and weeks that followed the bombing impacted all the residents of the city, profoundly. We walked around in shock, crying or numb. Forever changed.

Personally, the bombing tumbled my world view. But not necessarily in a bad way. It certainly wiped out my illusion of living in a “safe” bubble of geography. Until that time, terrorism was a remote problem in foreign countries. A bomb going off in a Middle East cafe, taking out innocent bystanders, brought only a mild shrug. 

I had no compassion. No empathy. American middle class me, could not identify.

After Oklahoma City, I could feel the pain. I understood the shock and anguish of 911. I recognized those desperate souls holding up pictures captioned Have You See Her? They were my people.

I’ve felt the pain for the families of Malaysia Flight 370, the murders of journalists in Paris, the kidnapping of girls by the Boko Haram. 

The illusion of my safe, insulated life was forever stripped away, but I gained global awareness. We are all in this thing called life together. Terrible things are going to happen. How do we respond?

There are no easy answers. But, compassion is a good beginning. In small ways, I’ve tried to make my corner of the world a kinder, more loving place. 

Perhaps, the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi is the best response we can take to honor lost loved ones and create hope for the future.

Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

150086627_3473d3e250

Blessings,

Dana Taylor

 

 

Boundless Compassion in Action

Spiritual Activism–Article Three

Putting faith into action is certainly exemplified by Homeboy Industries, founded by Father Gregory Boyle. Father Greg is the long term priest for the Dolores Mission in the gang center of the world, Los Angeles. Seeing a dire need for jobs to short-circuit the cycle of violence and prison sentences, Father Greg began putting gang members and ex-cons to work. As he relates in the excellent TATTOOS ON THE HEART: The Power of Boundless Compassion (see my review), having rival gang members work side-by-side often fostered a kinship that led to a life beyond the barrio.

“Homeboy Industries has been the tipping point to change the metaphors around gangs and how we deal with them in Los Angeles County. This organization has engaged the imagination of 120,000 gang members and helped them to envision an exit ramp off the “freeway” of violence, addiction and incarceration. And the country has taken notice. We have helped more than 40 other organizations replicate elements of our service delivery model, broadening further the understanding that community trumps gang — every time.”  – Father Greg

The Homeboy Bakery and the Home Girl Café produce wholesome food, while employing and training marginalized members of the community. Other businesses Homeboy Silk Screen and Embroidery, Solar Panel Installation Training and Certification, Homeboy Farmer’s Market, and Homeboy Merchandise. Services to the community include tattoo removal, job counseling, mental health, substance abuse, and domestic violence counseling.

Visit HomeboyIndustries.Org for more information.

Follow on Facebook

Homeboy Industries and the philosophy of Father Greg is influencing communities around the world with the Power of Boundless Compassion. Click Here to see Video.

Read the Homeboy Stories at their blog http://www.homeboystories.blogspot.com/

Order bakery goods now on-line at HomeBoyFoods.com

  

La Mama to the Prisoners Passes

First in a Series on Spiritual Activism–

Sister AntoniaSister Antonia Brenner passed away this week at the age of 86. She lived a life putting her convictions into action. A new wave of “Spiritual Activism” appears to be afoot. In the next few articles, I’ll be focusing on people putting their spirituality into action. Sister Antonia is a very good place to start.

After living a full life as a well-to-do California woman, mother to seven children, twice divorced, in 1977 she sold all of her possessions and moved into a cell in the La Mesa penitentiary in Tijuana, Mexico, to serve the inmates. For over thirty years, Sister Antonia Brenner would counsel, feed, clothe and show Christ’s love to the lowest, meanest, and most forgotten. She brought light into the darkness.

Read her full life story in the Los Angeles Times. See a clip on YouTube about the documentary La Mama: An American Nun in a Mexican Prison

A life well lived–Sister Antonia Brenna, the angels are welcoming you home.