“Wave after wave of trial rolled over us; but at the end of the year some of us were constrained to confess that we had learned more of loving-kindness than in any previous year of our lives.”
- James Hudson Taylor
Affirmative prayer: Infinite Presence, on this last day of the year, I am at peace and I see the world at peace. My heart is opening along with the hearts of all world citizens. I awaken to the light of my true nature, just as the true nature of all is showing itself in words and deeds. Today, I am healed. My sisters and brothers are healed, and we are a source of healing for others. Thank you, God, forever. Amen. – inspired by a Tibetan Buddhist prayer
Betty White, who is turning 100 in a couple of weeks, said the key to her health and happiness is always finding the positive in life. "I'm so lucky to feel so good at this age. It's amazing."
“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behaviors. Keep your behaviors positive because your behaviors become your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Affirmative prayer: Infinite Presence, I consciously choose where I place my attention, what I listen to, and what I give credence to. In spiritual realization, I choose love, positive influence, and the brightness of each moment. Thank you, God, forever. Amen.
Author Ramona Smith’s tips for giving a good new year’s toast are also good points for expressing yourself elsewhere: tell a quick story that illustrates your sentiment; be authentic; don’t wait for the perfect moment. So, want to tell someone you love them, but don’t know how? Refer to a shared memory; be real and vulnerable with your words; don’t wait for the right moment. This is the moment.
“Love is the outpouring of Spirit, the giving-ness of Life. It is the great transforming power which brings everything into harmony. It is the healing force.” – Ernest Holmes
Affirmative prayer: Infinite Presence, I give deep thanks for the gift of loved ones in my life. I express my affection to my soul friends, nourishing our relationship with attention, warmth, and gratitude. Heart to heart, I reach out. Thank you, God, forever. Amen.
People around the world are celebrating the life of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who passed away December 26. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate is honored for helping to end institutionalized segregation in South Africa, and for lending his voice to other injustices and oppression. "Anywhere humanity is undermined, anywhere people are left in the dust, there we will find our cause."
“There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.”
- Desmond Tutu
“The God who existed before any religion counts on you to make the oneness of the human family known and celebrated.” - Desmond Tutu
Affirmative prayer: Blessings on your journey. Thank you, dear friend to all, forever.
“Our most powerful connection to the cosmos is within us. Often, when we think about "trusting the Universe," we think some external force is going to swoop into our lives and save us. But it’s really just about trust, and the best way to trust the Universe is to trust yourself. It all comes back to love — in the fiercest way possible.”
- Lindsey Lewis, From Darkness to Light
“Little by little, you will turn into the whole sweet, amorous Universe. Love will surely burst you wide open into an unfettered, booming new galaxy.” – Rumi
Affirmative prayer: I affirm the love, beauty, and wholeness of the Infinite in my being, in my doingness, and in all human souls. I live today in the energy and grace of a loving Spirit and an empowering Universe. Thank you, God, forever. Amen.
Kwanzaa, celebrated December 26-January 1, is an African American holiday which honors family, community, and culture. Feasts, music, dance, poetry, and narratives make up the festivities, with participants dedicating themselves to seven principles: unity, self-determination, responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.
“We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond." - Gwendolyn Brooks, Kwanzaa: A Progressive and Uplifting African American Holiday
Affirmative prayer: Today, in the spirit of Kwanzaa, I honor the forebears, bridge-builders, and leaders of this beautiful culture. In Oneness, I lift up all my brothers and sisters and celebrate their divine providence. Thank you, God, forever. Amen.
“The great spiritual traditions of the world tell us that, no matter how hard life gets, there is a higher way of being that can see us through, and it’s love. That's what Christmas is about. Christmas shows us that we are givers and that we are never greater than when we are giving and expressing out of our highest, most selfless vision of love.” – Scott Awbrey
“May the hope of this sacred season settle in your soul. May you give and receive love generously. May this love echo in your heart like the joy of church bells on a clear December day. May the honor we give to the Babe of Bethlehem be that which you extend to every person who comes into your life.”
– Joyce Rupp, Out of the Ordinary
Affirmative prayer: Today, I rise into the consciousness of the Christ child, the vibration of pure love and Oneness that is present in us all. I praise the newness of life in every blessed being, and I dedicate my life to this truth that makes us free. Thank you, God, forever. Amen.
“You are the light of the world; let your light shine before others.” - Matthew 5:14
“It’s Christmas Eve! It’s the one day of the year when we all act a little nicer, smile a little easier, cheer a little more. Today, we are the people that we always hoped we would be.” – Bill Murray
Affirmative prayer: Infinite Presence, today I remember that there is a Christ light in everyone and in me. I affirm that the goodness of this holy Presence – all the love in the Universe – is the vivid reality of my life. I take it to heart and I give it away. Thank you, God, forever. Amen.
Some super heroes are sparring with one another and teaming up in ways we haven’t seen before. The storylines of DC Comics involve the new Superman, Jon Kent (son of Clark Kent), falling in love with a male newspaper reporter, Jay Nakamura. Wonder Woman locks lips with her girlfriend, Zala-El. Other DC characters who have come out are Batwoman, Captain America, and The Flash.
“All of us who are openly gay are living and writing the history of our movement. We are no more - and no less - heroic than the abolitionists of the 19th century and the Freedom Riders and environmentalists of the 20th century. We are ordinary people, living our lives.” – Tammy Baldwin, U.S. Senator from Wisconsin
Affirmative prayer: Remembering the Oneness of all, I give thanks for the fearless dimension of our hearts. I honor the expressions of love and connection by everyone, and I celebrate the Divine being honored in our relationships. Thank you, God, forever. Amen.
Dress Shoppe II in New York has been Saroj Goyal’s home, business, and sanctuary since 1977, and her clientele are like family. But the past two years have been hard. Her husband died, she took a bad fall, was diagnosed with breast cancer, and faced a lawsuit from her landlord. Then the pandemic came. She was going under, but her “family” raised $500,000 on social media to save her. Saroj is very thankful. “After putting my life into my beloved store, I’m not ready to say goodbye.”
A prayer of compassion: “Dear God, may I approach other beings with compassion and kindness. May I be aware of the suffering of others. May I be ready to give when someone needs my gifts and be open to receive from others when I am in need. May we always know the shelter of God. May we be at peace.” – Joyce Rupp, Out of the Ordinary
For the first time, an aircraft has "touched" the sun. NASA’s Parker Solar Probe flew through the sun's upper atmosphere while enduring temperatures of almost 2 million degrees. The probe sampled particles and examined magnetic fields which will provide insight into our sun and give clues to how stars influence life in the Universe. Oh, and we touched the sun!
"The rebirth of the sun at winter solstice signifies renewal for the earth as she embarks on another cycle of life. And, because we are children of the earth, we take part in this sacred cycle, feeling the renewal of our own life." - Scott Awbrey
Affirmative prayer: Infinite Presence, on this day of solstice, I live in gratitude for the returning light. I touch the sun and am made new again. Thank you, God, forever. Amen.
Throughout Robert Schumann’s life (1810-1856), he reported hearing inner voices which inspired his music. In his final years, the “spirits” which Schumann believed surrounded him, prompted some of his greatest work. “Ghost Variations” for solo piano, a hauntingly moving composition that combines sadness and beauty, was the last piece he wrote before entering an asylum.
“Listen to your inner voice; cultivate the good, the pure, the God within you. Do not let your false beliefs keep you in the darkness. The divine spark is within you. Fan it into flame by right thinking, right living, and right doing.” – Charles Fillmore, Atom-Smashing Power of Mind
Affirmative prayer: Infinite Spirit, strike up the band! Today, I practice lowly listening, placing my heart and mind in a divine current of power, love, and wisdom. My understanding is inborn, and I am open and available to be rejuvenated, inspired, and guided. Thank you, God, forever. Amen.
A mosaic from the Roman Empire that had been missing off and on since the first century was discovered in a Manhattan apartment, being used as a coffee table. The piece was part of the dance floor on a ship which sank in Lake Nemi. It rested at the bottom of the lake until 1920 when Mussolini drained the lake and took possession of it, until it was stolen by the Nazis, only to disappear again until it was found in New York. It is now on display in an Italian museum.
“There is nothing lost or wasted in this life.” – The Bhagavad Gita
Affirmative prayer: I affirm the truism that “nothing is ever lost in the Universe.” Understanding that all is known in Divine Mind and that I am connected to this Infinite Presence, I accept that answers, guidance, and mysteries shall be known to me. Thank you, God, forever. Amen.
Why do we love Christmas tunes so much? Music scholars say the songs become classics because they tie to a tradition, feeling, or memory. “Silent Night” reminds me of Christmas candlelight services. “The Little Drummer Boy” puts me back in my high school marching band. “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” reminds me, well, to accept someone only if they prove themselves useful. That’s the spirit! - Scott Awbrey
“No matter what traditions we follow, we are pilgrims together on the journey. Why not make this pilgrimage with a heart for one another? We will all be acknowledged and reverenced.” – Macrina Wiederkehr
Affirmative prayer: Today, I celebrate a testament of love, respect, and Oneness for my soul companions on the journey. I allow shared traditions to remind me we are connected in Spirit, and this union magnifies our beauty. Thank you, forever. Amen.
More than 100 students, alumni, and faculty members of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music were flown out of Kabul to arrive in Portugal where they’re receiving asylum. Ahmad Sarmast, founder of the institute, said they want to preserve the musical tradition so one day they can go back. “The mission is not complete, it just began.”
“We all come with a unique mission on Earth. No matter your calling, this world is depending on you. Existence is a puzzle. Without you in it, it would be incomplete. Now is the time for you to step into all that you can be.” - A. Helwa
Affirmative prayer: Today, I see my purpose in this life anew. I commit to it again, and again. Be it about relationships, service, or vocation, I know that it’s all about love. Thank you, God, for the resolve and resources to be about this sacred business. Thank you, forever. Amen.
Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has been named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. Editor-in-chief Edward Felesenthal said the designation is given to persons who are great “markers of influence,” adding that Musk is “reshaping life on Earth and possibly life off Earth, as well.”
“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” – Jane Goodall
Affirmative prayer: Infinite Presence, I am open to the influence of life forces: individuals who are in step with Divine Presence; the power in nature; the effect of my consciousness on my life experience. By my open heart, the sway of my thought, and the grace of my prayers, I work in partnership with these “markers of influence.” Thank you, God, forever. Amen
The tornadoes that ripped through the Midwest had the trappings of storms that typically strike at the height of tornado season in the spring. Only this time, disaster came in December. Experts said the storm was shocking in its intensity and timing, and it raises worrisome questions about what extreme weather events may look like in a warming world.
“In the past eleven thousand years we enjoyed a stable climate that allowed us to create agriculture, build towns, launch the Industrial Revolution, and develop technology. It provided us forests, coral reefs, grasslands, temperature, fresh water, and productive soils. But now we are stressing these systems, threatening to push Earth out of its sweet spot.” – Thomas Friedman
Affirmative prayer: Infinite Presence, I pray comfort and hope for those who suffered loss in the storm. I pray that responders, medical staff, and community leaders are guided and sourced by Divine strength and instinct. I pray that we as a global community take actions to nurture one another and our environment. May we be visionary, resourceful, and brave. Thank you, God, forever. Amen.
This view of a powerful storm above the clouds over the Pacific Ocean was taken by airline pilot and photographer Santiago Borja. Taken from 37,000 feet, Santiago explained that the storm created a low layer of clouds, then pierced the inversion to create a dramatic dome known as an “overshooting top.” To see more of Santiago’s incredible images, go here.
“We must strike out for the heights, away from the mists and fogs of doubts, and see things through the eyes of Spirit.” – Ernest Holmes, The Essential Ernest Holmes by Jesse Jennings
Affirmative prayer: Infinite Presence, I am a multi-dimensional being. I’m in this world, but not of it. I take care of life’s business while lifting my sights high. I rise above noisy conditions, above my own judgments and grievances, and I regain my soul’s lightness. I live as on a mountaintop, soulfully feeling the joy of pure Spirit. Thank you, God, forever. Amen.
Organizers of a camel beauty contest in Saudi Arabia have disqualified 43 contestants after cracking down on breeders who use Botox injections to enhance their camels’ looks. Unscrupulous breeders who compete in the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival were also caught using rubber bands to somehow inflate body parts.
“No matter what your physical appearance, when you have kindness in your heart, you’re the most beautiful person in the world.” - Mufti Ismail Menk, a Zimbabwean Islamic scholar
Affirmative prayer: Infinite Presence, today I judge not by appearances. Everyone I meet appears to me as a beautiful emanation of the Divine. Today, I live in spiritual clarity, beholding all as God’s own. Amen.
“Practice the witnessing presence. Be at least as interested in your reactions as in the situation or person that causes you to react.” – Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
Affirmative prayer: Today, I live in a witness state, mindful of my reactions, judgments, and opinions about the people and situations I come upon. I see with a clarity that brings light, insight, and appreciation to the story line of this day. I’m blessed to be grounded in my true life. Thank you, God, forever. Amen.
God is showing off tonight. Five planets, two asteroids, and the moon will align in the night sky, visible around the world. And, to top it off, the celestial alignment will be complemented by a few shooting stars. Such past events have been referred to as a “harmonic convergence” – a time when planets align, spiritual energy is amplified, and peace on Earth is given a chance.
“Prayer is not a petition; it is rather, an alignment which reaches to a Power that is greater than human understanding. In such reverent communion, the veil of doubt is lifted, and completeness of Life appears. This consciousness, referred to as the “secret place of the Most High,” (Psalm 91) is the conviction that God is all there is.” – Ernest Holmes, The Essential Ernest Holmes
Affirmative prayer: Today, in harmony with the Universe, I align my attention, words, and actions with the creative, life-giving force of God. I hang out in the secret place of the Most High, abiding in a sense of gratitude, unity, and potentiality. My consciousness is lifted, my actions are affirming, and I manifest the love of Pure Spirit. Amen.
Why do we say, “Bless you,” when someone sneezes? Well, in olden times, it was believed by some that a sneeze could propel the soul right out of one’s body, and a quick blessing – even a second after the sneeze – might curtail the soul’s movement. That just sounds silly. Who wants a soul that is encumbered?
“Blessings are supercharged with infectious delight and tend to reverberate down the corridors of time. Blessing is but another word for boundlessness. ”
– Evan Hodkins
Affirmative prayer: I reflect upon and convey the blessing of my soul, the sound and frequency of love in my being and in my life-connections. My soul thrills with joy when I bless another, and when others bless me. Thank you, God, forever. Gesundheit.
A recent study at North Carolina State University found that teaching children to understand other people's viewpoints can make it easier for them to learn how to forgive. The study also found that teaching children to make sincere apologies can help them receive forgiveness from others. "Forgiveness helps children and adults heal conflicts and restore relationships," said an author of the study.
“Families are the training ground for forgiveness. At some point you pardon the people in your family, and when you can do that, you can learn to pardon anyone. Even yourself.” - Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies
Affirmative prayer: Infinite Presence, I open my heart and soul, allowing the light of the Universe to illuminate my true self. I forgive the one who I’ve chained myself to, and I forgive myself, releasing the pain of past mistakes. I dwell now in goodness, beauty, and love. Thank you, God, forever. Amen.
Pope Francis met with refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos, which has become a symbol of the migrant crisis. He toured the camp, talked with and hugged the residents and, later, decried the loss of life. "Please let us stop this shipwreck of civilization."
“Under the torn tarpaulin for a roof and the broken plastic sheets for the four walls, they looked at the stars in the sky and dreamed.” ― Avijeet Das, New Delhi writer
Affirmative prayer: I pray to know that God is everywhere present and that no one is ever displaced from Spirit. May those in distress have a spark of hope that sees them through this hardship. I pray that the leaders of nations recover a vision of Oneness and, from this Truth, are moved to care, to take action that respects and restores lives. May the love of God be a gathering point for us all, and may my caring move me to pray more, serve more, give more. Amen.
A Nigerian musician, Davido, asked his friends and fans on Twitter to send him money for his birthday. Then he surprised them by donating the money to orphanages across Africa. He raised $485,000 and added $120,000 of his own money. Davido plans to raise funds every year for his birthday. “I hope my friends, fans, and the public will continue this with me.”
“The ripple effect can extend out to two and three degrees of separation. In other words, if you are kind and compassionate, your friends, your friends' friends', and even your friends' friends' friends' are more likely to be kind and compassionate.”
- Nicholas Christakis, The Book of Joy
Affirmative prayer: I am in rhythm with the Divine Creator and, because there is only one Life, everyone in my orbit is also in sync with this Infinite Love-Intelligence. That being so, the prayers, giving, and compassionate acts of each of us is magnified by our collective energy. Life is good. Thank you, God, forever. Amen.