A New Book on Gay Spirituality

Gay is a Gift is a new book on Gay Spirituality from Salvatore Sapienza, the Lambda Literary award nominee for Seventy Times Seven


Friday, December 31, 2010

Bridge of Light: A Gay Winter Holiday


This is excerpted from writer Joe Perez's blog. Joe is the author of Soulfully Gay:

A Gay Winter Holiday

For each of the past six years, I and small clusters of people have lit six colored candles to bring in the New Year. They are the colors of the gay community’s Rainbow Flag; they are the colors of the chakras; they are the colors of the great evolutionary Spiral. And this year, on December 31, I will once again remember, honor, hope, and heal.

I’ve been reminded time and again by well-meaning onlookers that new traditions need to evolve organically and not by fiat. Since I published newspaper columns and blogged about the Bridge of Light, I’ve wondered if anyone else is lighting the candles. I’ve heard at times from dozens of individuals who have kept the tradition, and had my spirit lifted.

But at other times, I’ve felt this was a quixotic, virtually impossible chance at shifting gay culture into more mature and evolutionary practices as well as shift American and world cultures into fuller appreciation of the LGBT community’s spiritual dignity and distinctiveness. What am I really hoping to achieve? And what sort of crazy idea is this as a way of shifting culture?

Bridge of Light 101

Before I dive into these questions, this is what you need to know. The holiday was founded in 2004 as a winter solstice celebration called Yuletide and by the next year was renamed Bridge of Light and moved to the New Year. Soon thereafter it allied with the World Spirituality Day, an event founded by the San Francisco-based Integrative Spirituality about the same time. World Spirituality Day is imagined by some as “The Earth Day for the Spirit,” and Bridge of Light is imagined as the distinctive LGBT community contribution to the international holiday.

The central tradition for Bridge of Light is the lighting of candles in six colors, one for each color of the rainbow flag. According to followers of the tradition, each candle honors a universal spiritual principle. In 2009, with the assistance of Kittredge Cherry, the principles were defined as follows:

1.The First Principle: Red, the Root of Spirit (Community), celebrated on December 26 or the first candle of New Year’s Eve. The suggested practice is meditations on the first chakra.
2.The Second Principle: Orange, the First of Spirit (Eros), celebrated on December 27 or the second candle of New Year’s Eve. The suggested practice is meditations on the second chakra.
3.The Third Principle: Yellow, the Core of Spirit (Self-Esteem), celebrated on December 28 or the third candle of New Year’s Eve. The suggested practice is meditations on the third chakra.
4.The Fourth Principle: Green, the Heart of Spirit (Love), celebrated on December 29 or the fourth candle of New Year’s Eve. The suggested practice is meditations on the fourth chakra.
5.The Fifth Principle: Blue, the Voice of Spirit (Self-Expression and Justice), celebrated on December 30 or the fifth candle of New Year’s Eve. The suggested practice is meditations on the fifth chakra.
6.The Sixth Principle: Purple, the Eye of Spirit (Wisdom), celebrated on December 31 or the sixth and final candle of New New Year’s Eve. The suggested practice is meditations on the sixth chakra.
There is also a seventh principle of the holiday: the Crown of Spirit (Spirituality). It is not symbolized by a separate candle, but by the unity of the six other candles, kept lit past midnight into the New Year. The suggested practice is a meditation on the seventh chakra.

Unity in Diversity

So there you have it, the seven principles of the Bridge of Light. If your spirituality is evolutionary (as mine is), then you’ll also be inspired to associate each of these colors with a stage in the development of spiritual awareness and progressive realization of dignity and justice and maturity of the LGBT community.

What I’ve said before about the holiday is:

Bridge of Light is a symbol recognizing the hidden unity veiled by the many colors of the rainbow, the symbol most closely associated with the gay rights movement worldwide. As important as it is to appreciate the diversity of unique colors, it is also important to recognize our commonalities and dignity as human beings, he says.
The Holiday’s Reception

Today there is the obligatory underutilized and perfunctory Facebook group and dozens of written endorsements from LGBT dignitaries who (honestly) may or may not care a hoot about the holiday’s status as an ongoing enterprise. I haven’t heard from most endorsers in a while and can only guess whether they keep the tradition alive or if they’ve lapsed into non-practicing status.

Over the years, I have heard from dozens of readers of my book Soulfully Gay (which told the story of the holiday’s origin in its final chapter) who tell me they bring the Bridge of Light as a component to their solstice and holiday parties. While that’s positive, I think, I’m not sure what the lighting of the candles represents if it is taken merely as decoration not as a shared practice of communal solidarity and universal harmony.

I have sent news releases faithfully to the LGBT newspapers every year for the past five years, but mainly the mainstream Queer press ignores the holiday. I have blogged about the holiday, but feedback loop on a blog is insubstantial enough to leave me guessing as to the holiday’s notability. At times, it’s been a lonely journey; and then I feel shame at caring about the holiday’s reception in the world at all. Surely there are more important things to be concerned about.

Today I have sober ambitions but anything but a somber outlook. I am content to keep my own Bridge of Light candles burning and let the world know that the wisdom it bears is not forgotten. The holiday’s message, I think, is best determined by those who keep it alive and share it with others, not with anything that I’ve written, done, or left undone. With the passing of years, the holiday remains. Its message of spiritual unity, human dignity, and celebration of life is carried forward and continually renewed.

Keeping the Candles Lit

To anyone without an evolutionary spirituality, the idea of starting a new holiday as a way of shifting culture has got to seem futile or crazy. They say what is real is what is traditional, and Bridge of Light’s heritage is a slight seven years. They say what is real is what is conventional, and Bridge of Light gets little press. They say what is real is what is popular, but I say the fire of every tradition that is popular today was once a torch carried by a minority.

The World Spirit, by whatever name, is in our midst today, as real and manifest as anything else I know. But it is almost entirely unrecognized by the human beings too busy with what is traditional and conventional and popular to notice the divine spark flowing in all beings at all times. Spirit itself, like the Bridge of Light, does not require a page one article in the Advocate or a mention on Perez-Hilton. It is what it is, and that brings me hope.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

NYC Gay Couple Receive Letters to Santa

Another example of Gay is a Gift....just in time for Christmas:

Thursday, December 9, 2010

'A Gift from God Series' - Intro Video

Salvatore Sapienza, author of "Gay is a Gift" and "Seventy Times Seven," is among 15 interviewees (such as Michael Bernard Beckwith, Rev. Ed Bacon and Bishop Gene Robinson) featured in this groundbreaking teleseminar series led by Gabriel Gonsalves. Watch the video for more information.

"A Monk in the World"

Listen to "Seventy Times Seven" and "Gay is a Gift" author, Salvatore Sapienza, as he discusses being "A Monk in the World" at Unity Church on the Lakeshore:

"Sweet Surrender: The Art of Letting Go"

Listen to "Seventy Times Seven" and "Gay is a Gift" author Salvatore Sapienza as he discusses "Sweet Surrender: The Art of Letting Go" at Spirit Space, an interfaith spiritual center in Saugatuck, Michigan:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Boy George - Amazing Grace: Official Video (radio edit)

"Eureka Pride" Review of GAY IS A GIFT by Salvatore Sapienza


I first heard of Salvatore Sapienza when he published his first book "Seventy Times Seven" and I remember thinking to myself that this guy is someone to watch. He deals with gay spirituality in a way that it should be a part of each of our lives and as a deeply spiritual and religious Jewish gay man, I must agree. I was able to find my own way but others are not so lucky and for them, Sapienza has written this beautiful little book. I say "little book" because there are just over one hundred pages in it but each page has something important to say.

I understand that the idea for the book came from an Oprah Winfrey television show on gay spirituality and if that show has not affected anything or anyone else, we are so lucky that it brought Sapienza to write this wonderfully concise handbook on spirituality. We learn that in raising our gay consciousness, we also find that we have a need for spirituality. Much too often gay people leave religions because they feel there is no place for them or that they are not wanted or welcome. Leaving religion does not mean that spirituality need be left behind with in.

It does not take much to uncover each person's inner gifts and in doing so finding the spirit. Whether we want to accept it or not, we must understand that we are part of a larger society and therefore we have to find a way to exist in it. Using our own natural spirituality makes it that much easier. Understanding our past also helps us come to terms with our spirituality and there's been gay spirituality as long as there have been gay people and that means forever. We just need to find out how to tap into it and the author here shows us just how, I am not going to tell you anything that he says to do because to do so would ruin a wonderful reading experience for you.

Let it be enough to say that Salvatore Sapienza writes like a master and uses words and ideas that are easily understood. To me, he is like a nurturer or mother hen showing us how easy it is top come to terms with ourselves and that is the first step we must take. We must accept ourselves before anything else. The book makes it seem so easy and, believe me, it is. Use "Gay is a Gift" as a guide and you will find yourself more at peace not just with yourself but with everyone.

I loved Sapienza's first book but now it will have to move over to make a place for my new favorite book, "Gay is a Gift". It is written so beautifully and says so much that, if you are like me, may find yourself reading it with tears in your eyes. That is the first step on the way to finding your spirituality.

-Amos Lassen, Eureka Pride

Gay Native American Two-Spirits






Lyndon Evans from the Focus on the Rainbow blog wrote this great article about the Native American Two-Spirits, whom I refer to in my book, Gay is a Gift.

Haunted Man of the Cloth and Pioneer of Gay Rights


Read this great article from The New York Times about James Stoll, one of the first openly gay ministers in America.

Was a Would-Be Saint Gay?





During his historic trip to England last week, the Pope canonized John Henry Newman. Read "Time" magazines article on Newman's sexuality below:



Was a Would-Be Saint Gay?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Out Musician Levi Kreis Wins Tony, Thanks Bodhi Spiritual Center

Out musician Levi Kreis won the Tony last night, and he thanked Bodhi Spiritual Center in Chicago (led by my friend, out minister Mark Anthony Lord). How cool! I am so grateful for the gay gift of Spirit that Levi and Mark bring to the world. Gay is a Gift!!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Gay Book Reading Event with Gay Men's Chorus


Here's the press release for a great upcoming event of which I will be a part. If you live in the Grand Rapids area, I hope you'll attend:
On Wednesday, June 16, Literary Life bookstore in Grand Rapids will team up with home d├ęcor boutique Wealthy at Charles to present an evening of progressive entertainment featuring poetry, prose and music.

Starting at 7 pm at the bookstore, Grand Rapids author David J. Sterken will read from his new book of poetry, Out Of Chaos Brilliant Stars Are Born. Sterken is an award-winning nurse practitioner and reiki master currently working on a doctoral degree in New Thought and Metaphysics.

Following Sterken, author Salvatore Sapienza of Saugatuck will read from his books, Gay is a Gift and Seventy Times Seven, which was nominated for two Lambda Literary Awards. Sapienza has appeared locally on NPR and PBS.

At 8 pm, the evening continues down the block at Wealthy at Charles for a reception and special musical performance by the West Michigan Gay Men’s Chorus. Proceeds from the evening will benefit the grand rapids Red project .

Literary Life Bookstore is located 758 Wealthy Street in Grand Rapids. For more information, call (616) 458-8418.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Aramaic Lord's Prayer

I grew up - like many good Catholic boys - learning, memorizing and praying the "Our Father," the prayer that Jesus taught. Jesus spoke Aramaic, and I recently came across Neil Douglas-Klotz's translation of the prayer. As you can read below (and see on the video), the translation from the original Aramaic gives an entirely slant, one which touches my Spirit in a whole new Light. I hope it will do the same for you:


Lords Prayer, from the original Aramaic Translation by Neil Douglas-Klotz

from the book "Prayers of the Cosmos"


O Breathing Life, your Name shines everywhere!

May our future actions grow from here!

Release a space to plant your Presence here.

Envision your “I Can” now.

Embody your desire in every light and form.

Grow through us this moment’s bread and wisdom.

Untie the knots of failure binding us,

as we release the strands we hold of others’ faults.

Help us not forget our Source,

Yet free us from not being in the Present.

From you arises every Vision, Power and Song

from gathering to gathering.

Amen

Monday, May 10, 2010

Zen Monk Thich Nhat Hanh on Gay is a Gift


Thich Nhat Hanh: On Gay is a Gift

Thich Nhat Hanh, the noted Zen monk, poet, teacher who shares these words about the Buddhadharma’s view of “homosexuality” in the latest book, ANSWERS FROM THE HEART.

Q. What is the Buddhist view of homosexuality?


A. The spirit of Buddhism is inclusiveness. Looking deeply into the nature of a cloud, we see the cosmos. A flower is a flower, but if we look deeply into it, we see the cosmos. Everything has a place. The base-the foundation of everything-is the same. When you look at the ocean, you see different kinds of waves, many sizes and shapes, but all the waves have water as their foundation and substance. If you are born gay or lesbian, your ground of being in the same as mine. We are different, but we share the same ground of being. The Protestant theologian Paul Tillich said that God is the ground of being. You should be yourself. If God has created me as a rose, then I should accept myself as a rose. If you are a lesbian, then be a lesbian. Looking deeply into your nature, you will see yourself as you truly are. You will be able to touch the ground of your being and find peace.


If you’re a victim of discrimination, then your way to emancipation is not simply by crying out against injustice. Injustice cannot be repaired by recognition alone, but by your capacity to touch the ground of your being. Discrimination, intolerance, and suppression stem from lack of knowledge and lack of understanding. If you’re capable of touching the ground of your being, you can be released from the suffering that has been created in you through discrimination and oppression.


Someone who discriminates against you, because of your race or the color of your skin or your sexual orientation, is ignorant. He doesn’t know his own ground of being. He doesn’t realize that we all share the same ground of being; that is why he can discriminate against you.
Someone who discriminates against others and causes them to suffer is someone who is not happy with himself. Once you’ve touched the depth and the nature of your ground of being, you’ll be equipped with the kind of understanding that can give rise to compassion and tolerance, and you will be capable of forgiving even those who discriminate against you. Don’t believe that relief or justice will come through society alone. True emancipation lies in your capacity to look deeply.


When you suffer because of discrimination, there’s always an urge to speak out. But even if you spend a thousand years speaking out, your suffering won’t be relieved. Only through deep understanding and liberation from ignorance can you be liberated from your suffering.
When you break through to the truth, compassion springs up like a stream of water. With that compassion, you can embrace even the people who have persecuted you. When you’re motivated by desire to help those who are victims of ignorance, only then are you free from your suffering and feelings of violation. Don’t wait for things to change around you. You have to practice liberating yourself. Then you will be equipped with the power of compassion and understanding, the only kind of power that can help transform an environment full of injustice and discrimination. You have to become such a person-one who can embody tolerance, understanding, and compassion. You transform yourself into an instrument for social change and change in the collective consciousness of mankind.


Thich Nhat Hanh, Answers from the Heart: Practical Responses To Life’s Burning Questions (Berkeley: Parallax Press, 2009), 119-122.
Salvatore Sapienza, Gay is a Gift (Tregatti Press, 2009)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

"Eureka Pride" Magazine Praises "Gay is a Gift"


This Book is a Gift in Itself by Amos Lassen, Eureka Pride Magazine


I first heard of Salvatore Sapienza when he published his first book "Seventy Times Seven" and I remember thinking to myself that this guy is someone to watch. He deals with gay spirituality in a way that it should be a part of each of our lives and as a deeply spiritual and religious Jewish gay man, I must agree.


I was able to find my own way but others are not so lucky and for them, Sapienza has written this beautiful little book. I say "little book" because there are just over one hundred pages in it but each page has something important to say. I understand that the idea for the book came from an Oprah Winfrey television show on gay spirituality and if that show has not affected anything or anyone else, we are so lucky that it brought Sapienza to write this wonderfully concise handbook on spirituality.


We learn that in raising our gay consciousness, we also find that we have a need for spirituality. Much too often gay people leave religions because they feel there is no place for them or that they are not wanted or welcome. Leaving religion does not mean that spirituality need be left behind with in. It does not take much to uncover each person's inner gifts and in doing so finding the spirit.


Whether we want to accept it or not, we must understand that we are part of a larger society and therefore we have to find a way to exist in it. Using our own natural spirituality makes it that much easier. Understanding our past also helps us come to terms with our spirituality and there's been gay spirituality as long as there have been gay people and that means forever. We just need to find out how to tap into it and the author here shows us just how.


I am not going to tell you anything that he says to do because to do so would ruin a wonderful reading experience for you. Let it be enough to say that Salvatore Sapienza writes like a master and uses words and ideas that are easily understood. To me, he is like a nurturer or mother hen showing us how easy it is top come to terms with ourselves and that is the first step we must take. We must accept ourselves before anything else.


The book makes it seem so easy and, believe me, it is. Use "Gay is a Gift" as a guide and you will find yourself more at peace not just with yourself but with everyone. I loved Sapienza's first book but now it will have to move over to make a place for my new favorite book, "Gay is a Gift".


It is written so beautifully and says so much that, if you are like me, may find yourself reading it with tears in your eyes. That is the first step on the way to finding your spirituality.

Gay Spirituality: Rainbow Wristband


About the Wrist Band (excerpt from the book, Gay is a Gift by Salvatore Sapienza)

I hope that looking at the gift box you created -whether it sits atop your desk or on your nightstand or in some other prominent spot in your home or office - will be a gentle reminder for you to reconnect with your Spirit each time you look at it.
I realize, however, that there will be moments when you’ll be stuck in traffic, or waiting in line at the grocery store, or sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, or at the flight gate of an airport where your gift box won’t be in sight.
And, it can be during these sometimes stressful moments when we need to be reminded of our Spirits more than ever. I began to think what I could do to create a visual that would always be in my sight; a visual that would remind me to shift my negative thinking and remain in the present Now moment every time I looked at it.
I thought about tattooing “Be Here Now” (after Ram Dass’s famous book) on my forearm - to remember that this peace was always “at hand.” Luckily, (to the relief of my partner, Gregg) I, instead, was inspired to create the “Gay is a GIFT” Wristband.
It’s just like those charity yellow wristbands that were popularized a few years back by cyclist and Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong, for the fight against cancer, and more recently, by Unity minister and writer, Will Bowen, who created the Complaint-free wristband as a reminder to stay positive.
The “Gay is a GIFT” wristband is rainbow-colored, of course, and is embossed with the words “Gay is a GIFT” on it. It’s available for purchase Here
It is my hope that by wearing this wristband each day, you’ll be reminded of all the wisdom you’ve gleaned from this book (though, really, it’s wisdom you’ve gleaned from inside yourself, right?), and that it will assist in keeping you grounded in the present moment (which is where Spirit lives) each time you look at it. May the wristband on your arm also inspire others to do the same. Wearing it, I’m sure friends, colleagues, family members and strangers will ask you for an explanation as to what the wristband symbolizes, providing you with a blessed opportunity to pass on your wisdom, pass on your Light, pass on your Gift.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Howard Jones was New Thought Back in the '80's

I loved Howard Jones, the British pop star, back in the '80's. His songs were always so upbeat and positive.

Recently, I listened to his Greatest Hits CD on a car trip, and I came to realize how New Thought his songs are! Long before Eckhart Tolle and Wayne Dyer, Jones was advising: "Say goodbye to longstanding fears," "Bend your brains" and "Throw off your mental chains" and not to be "laden down by the doom crew."

Here are the lyrics to his "New Song"

I've been waiting for so long/ To come here now and sing this song/ Don't be fooled by what you see/ Don't be fooled by what you hear/ This is a song to all my friends/ They take the challenge to their hearts/ Challenging preconceived ideas/ Saying goodbye to long standing fears/ Don't crack up/ Bend your brain/ See both sides/ Throw off your mental chains/ I don't wanna be hip and cool/ I don't wanna play by the rules/ Not under the thumb of the cynical few/ Or laden down by the doom crew

You can hear these New Thought principles on Jones' other songs, too, like "Pearl in the Shell," "The Prisoner," "Things Can Only Get Better," and "Why Look for the Key."

Above is a fun video a group of young people did to Jones' "New Song." Enjoy.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Beautiful World HD




I first became aware of a young man named Emmanuel Dagher on the Lightworkers website. I love reading his "Minutes of Transformation." They always make me so peaceful.

Then, I discovered his amazing video, "Beautiful World" (see above), so I ordered his CD. Wow! Listening to it makes me so joyful!

Emmanuel also co-hosts a weekly radio show called High Vibe Radio, another source of inspiration for me.

The name Emmanuel means "God is With Us," and this is certainly the case with Emmanuel Dagher, who shares from the One True Source and helps guide all of us to the remembering the Divinity within. I am so grateful for him and his work.

Monday, April 26, 2010

My New Interview with "Dreamgirls" Award-Winner, Jennifer Holliday


I recently had the chance to interview award-winning "Dreamgirls" star, Jennifer Holliday, as she gears up for her upcoming gig in Saugatuck at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts, which is just a three block walk from our bed and breakfast.
Read the entire inteview HERE
BTW, rooms are still available at my bed and breakfast in Saugatuck for that weekend, too. See Beechwood Manor Inn to check availablity and book online.

The Reviews are in for "Gay is a GIFT"


"Think of Gay is a GIFT as Chicken Soup for the Gay Soul. A+" - Web Digest Weekly

"Salvatore Sapienza's Gay is a GIFT is itself a gift; a sweet, inspiring portrayal of gay consciousness as blessing, along with a simple, light-hearted - even fun - spiritual practice for bringing more blessing into your life." -Toby Johnson, author of Gay Spirituality.

"4 out of 4 stars. A sweet epistle on gay spirituality including some practical exercises as well as personal anecdotes from the author's personal struggle, it's a loving, worthwhile read." -Out Front Colorado

"A fine offering of affirmation, information and motivation that will raise both your spirits and your consciousness. Livened and enriched by personal anecdotes and practical exercises, Sapienza’s book illuminates one man’s struggle to eliminate the negativity of being gay and replace it with the fine, white light of positivism."-Out In Print

"Use Gay is a GIFT as a guide and you will find yourself more at peace not just with yourself but with everyone. It is written so beautifully and says so much that, if you are like me, may find yourself reading it with tears in your eyes." -Eureka Pride

Sunday, February 14, 2010

To Remind You of Your Magnificence




When I was writing my book Gay is a GIFT, I was inspired by Henri Nouwen, a twentieth-century Catholic priest, best-selling spiritual author, and gay man.




I read in Michael Ford's biography of Henri, entitled Wounded Prophet, that Henri was planning on writing a book about spirituality and homosexuality before his death. Since Henri never got to write that book, I decided I would.




I placed the icon of Henri pictured here on the desk next to me as I wrote the book. As I was writing, I kept singing two songs in my head, songs we sing at Unity.


One is "I'm Here to Remind You," which says, "I'm here to remind you of your magnificence. To help you awake to all the wonder that you are. I long to show you all the joy you're worthy of. I'm here to remind you just how much you're truly loved."


The other song is "How Could Anyone," which says, "How could anyone ever tell you you are anything less than beautiful? How could anyone ever tell you you are less than whole? How could anyone fail to notice that your loving is a miracle. How deeply you're connected to my soul."


I thought I would open and close my book with these two songs. And - in another case of Synchro-Divinity - I came to discover that both songs were written by gay people! The former by David Ault (that's his photo here) and the latter by Libby Roderick.


Shortly after that, I came across a used copy of a book David had written a few years back called "Where Regret Cannot Find Me." After purchasing it, I opened it up and found that it was an autographed copy. Inside, David had inscribed the book to a "Henri." He wrote, "For Henri - Knowing your path is filled with great love! All the best, David."


Isn't this synchro-Divinity stuff so cool?!!


Autobiography of a Yogi


One of my favorite magazines, Pure Inspiration, often features the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda, a twentieth-century Indian yogi who founded the Self-Realization Fellowship in the United States.
When I was a teacher in Encinitas, California, Iwould often pass by the Self-Realization temple where Yogananda lived and wrote his autobiography. It always seemed so mysterious to me.

Lately, I've felt called to learn more about him, so I was led to his book, Autobiography of a Yogi. About half-way through reading it, I attended Sunday service at our local Unity church, where - unbeknowst to me - the guest speaker was from the local Self-Realization group.

He spoke about the commandments in the Bhagavad Gita, translated as pleasure, prosperity, duty and liberation. When I got back home and started back up with reading the autobiography, Yogananda was discussing those very same commandments! There are no coincidences. Call it Synchro-Divinity!

I thought I'd share with you some of the widsom of Paramahansa Yogananda:

  • "A man who has reformed himself will remform thousands."
  • "The law of miracles is operable by anyone who has realized that the essence of creation is light."
  • "The deeper the self-realization of a man, the more he influences the whole universe by his subtle spiritual vibrations, and the less he himself is affected by the phenomenal flux."
  • "The more man realizes his unity with Spirit, the less he can be dominated by matter. The soul is ever free."
  • "The goal of yoga is to calm the mind, that without distortion, it may hear the infallible counsel of the Inner Voice."
  • "The Spirit of God is exhaustless Bliss. His body is countless tissues of Light."
  • "A master - one who has realized himself as the omnipresent soul, not the body or ego - perceived in all men a striking similarity."
  • "That hard core of ego is difficult to dislodge except rudely. With its departure, the Divine finds at last an unobstructed channel."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Remembering Dan


Two longtime Saugatuck residents, Ray Riker and Dan Krieter, passed away within days of each other this month.


There are many wonderful tributes to Ray on the internet - from his partner Jim's beautifully touching blog to LifeStoryNet, where a record number of guests have visited his page. Ray and I would often work out at the same time at the gym, and my partner, Gregg, and I have had dinner several times with Ray and Jim. I will miss Ray's warmth and sense of humor.


I could not, however, find any mention of Dan on the internet, and that is the main reason why I feel that Spirit has guided me to create this blog, so that I may help pay tribute to him here on my first post.


While I do not understand it, I wholeheartedly respect Dan's loving long-time partner, Roger, and the Krieter family's decision not to publish an obituary in the newspaper or online. Still, the writer in me wants to memorialize Dan in some small way. So here goes:


Dan was one of the first people to welcome me and Gregg to Saugatuck back in 2005. As we did not know anyone in town, Dan introduced us to many people in the community and even invited us over for Thanksgiving at his home.


When giving us directions to his place, Dan instructed us to "cross over the train tracks." We didn't even know there was a train that ran near Lakeshore Drive in Saugatuck. What we discovered when we arrived was that the tracks were on Dan's property! He had laid them himself and had his own train. I'm not talking one of those minature model trains. Dan's was a train that six adults could actually ride in!


We had so much fun taking those train rides around his property. Though Dan was definitely a "man's man" in many ways with a deep voice, big bear hugs and a hearty laugh, he was like a little kid when it came to conducting those train rides. It reminded me of the line from Scripture when Jesus instructs us to become like little children: "Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” This quality also came through each summer when we'd walk into town together for ice cream cones.


Dan was talented in so many ways. For instance, he and Roger built their beautiful log-cabin home all by themselves. They didn't hire contracters or builders. Dan took great pride in that home and its surroundings. He loved doing things outdoors, but he also loved old movies and reading by the fire. Dan was also an excellent cook, too.


What some may not know was that Dan was also a very talented writer of fiction. I feel honored that he shared the first draft of his novel with me, and I hope it will get published so that others may discover this talent of his.


I don't know if Dan was a religious person, but he did share with me that during a time of crisis in his adult life, he had a vision of Jesus, who offered comfort and good counsel. I feel so blessed to have gotten to know Dan in this lifetime, and I will remember his spirit everytime I hear a train whistle in the distance.


I share with you all a photo of Dan, which is the only one I could find for now. Though it shows him in all his rugged handsomeness, it does not showcase his amazing smile, and Dan was someone who was always smiling. Rest in peace, my dear friend, and thank you for your friendship.