Thank You, Now and Forever: “The Divine Mother”

November 20, 2011 by  

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Giving thanks for this is easy ...but what if there were more to Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is truly a delicious holiday (Photo by My mother loved eating, so a photo of a sumptuous looking turkey would not offend her. My, mother, however, knew what Thanksgiving was really about at the spiritual level. This article is about giving thanks in a most personal way. I hope it inspires you to reflect on who is dearest to you while they are still accessible in this world. Then look even deeper than that.

"God blessed anointed my fingers," Mom said.

Mom playing piano at Third Baptist Church.

There are designated times to express love ... Valentine's Day. There is a well-publicized period in where we not only give, possibly going into debt to do so but there is the expectation of receiving ... Christmas. There are many commercially supported times to share the tender side of of ourselves but Thanksgiving is unique in one way. It can only be truly celebrated by giving something that cannot be purchased. The success of Thanksgiving is not measurable by how much turkey and stuffing we eat, not even by how many people we invite to share the bountiful meal with us. After all, the ritual aspect of the holiday, like the symbolic aspect of the others has been well-established. Thanksgiving, like Christmas, is a holiday, or have we forgotten that means holy day.

To have a successful holy day you need to go deeper than the surface. Is there something in your life, someone in your life that inspires deep gratitude in your soul and spirit? It is no ordinary sentiment I am pointing to. Thanksgiving is an invitation for reflection and appreciation, for giving thanks.

We can get all kinds of stuff from stores but there is something far more precious than material things. Take a few moments to consider that. Jesus Christ carried an awesome burden in a world where no one fully understood his nature or purpose. Nevertheless, he had the comfort of knowing that his mother, Mary, was by his side. She was there for him when faith was her only comfort. She was present at the hour of his greatest suffering. She believed in him at the darkest hour.

The mother of Jesus symbolizes that priceless treasure known as unconditional love. We hear about it but seldom do we come in contact with it. If you have ever experienced it, you are blessed. One who loves you in such away may not understand or even approve of all you do but he or she never turns his or her back on you, the living soul.

The sunlight, the moonlight, the gentle spring rain rejects not one of us. The trees bear fruit and give shade to the poor, the wealthy, old and young persons alike, without discrimination. I am grateful for these recurring gifts. Even so, in the essence of my being, where I am aware of the gifts that comprise the whole planet earth and the magnificent canvass of stars surrounding it, I am also aware that my very existence, itself, my ability to feel and discern the nature of things, colors and sounds, texture and motion is also a gift. I freely and unashamedly give thanks to the Ultimate Presence, that being who though called by many names in many languages, is so attractive to me without name or form. I give thanks. I know all living beings owe their presence to that Presence.

I also remember that there was a time when I found myself in the midst of all these sensations of life completely helpless. There were others to greet me then, to hold me, kiss me, talk to me. They fed me when I was hungry and gave me drink when I was thirsty. I had no power of any kind. I am grateful for Vernon and Kate Ely Turner, my parents. They received me


There was someone to receive and shelter you, even if they were not your parents. Someone helped you when you could do nothing for yourself.

We grow older, gain a measure of independence and power, and think we need no longer need anyone. Driven by our egoes, we often believe our lives are self-propelled. We can forget how many lives are linked to ours. There are many people who still carry us.

As a Spiritual teacher I do not forget who is inhaling and exhaling me each and every moment but sometimes when we battles principalities and spiritual wickedness at work in dark places we, like Jesus Christ can feel alone. Even so, like golden rays of light beaming though a gray sky, we turn and see a smile or hear a loving voice which reminds us we are neither forgotten nor alone. Through living and willing vessels The Lord shows His love for us. We need only take focus on the simple things.

These feeling flow easily within me as I prepare to join my natural family to fellowship and dine during Thanksgiving. It will truly be a time for giving thanks because I come from a family unabashedly spiritual and rooted in the church and other spiritual centers. Being with them is like coming in for a landing, the Star child re-connects with his DNA, rejoining the bloodline.

There are many reasons to be thankful for my family but I want to share just two for now. My teacher, Sadguru Sant Keshavas often spoke of "The Mother,"reflecting on the feminine aspect of The Godhead.This subject had never been broached in my Christian upbringing but I received the teachings and meditated on them. I did not have to go very far to experience an epiphany ..."Mother-love." First, cradled on her bosom, later holding her hand,being nursed through sicknesses by her soft touch and reassuring faith,joining her at the dinner table, enjoying her cooking in the company of my father, brother and sisters, in so many ways my life melded with my mother's life. I felt her in my spirit. If my mother left home to go to night services alone, I stayed awake looking out of the window, waiting for her footsteps. I did not lay my head on the pillow until she was safely in the house. I do not claim this feelings as unique to me. I just want you to remember your early feelings for your own mother or guardian.

My mother just about lived in the church. If it was open, we were there. She taught Sunday School, played piano as the auxilliary organist, sang in the choir, taught Baptist Training Union, Vacation Bible School. Whatever was needed in the Lord's house she was ready to do it. I joked that for quite awhile I thought Jesus was a member of the immediate family because mom called his name so much. It was not easy to be dressed up and going to church so often while other boys played baseball and other sports. Yet, the foundation of my faith, instilled by my mother, Zion Bethel and Third Baptist was valuable beyond measure.

In later years, I embraced Zen practice and also came under the guidance of Sadguru Sant Keshavadas, my mother did not understand the shift in my consciousness. She still believed that God was with me but the steps I took outside of tradition, mystified her. I was being lead down a different path. No one could alter that. One day I stood looking in her eyes. I was a world-traveled Spiritual teacher and the author of several books. "Mom, I see a Divine light in your eyes." I said. "To God be the glory!" was her capping phrase, and she lowered her gaze humbly.I quietly marvelled at what I had seen. It was the last time I would see her alive. I did hear her voice twice more. Some days later she said to me on the phone. "I love you. You know there is nothing that I would not do for you." The next day she was gone but her very last message was left on my voice-mail. I received it after she passed. She sang a song to me. It reminded me to praise The Lord. her favorite activity. She left me something else, her smile. It penetrated my soul and merged with my spirit. It is because her smile never fades from my heart that she continues to live in me. I am grateful to the one who gave me to her and her to me, I am grateful that He permits me to still feel the light of my mother when I need that touch only she has.

I said there were two things I would share. I also give thanks for my the life of my Aunt, Mildred Ely. She, too, is not gone, not to me, our spiritual connection was too strong to break just because the body fails. "My Aunt Mildred was blessed and highly favored," truly. However, she wanted that for everyone.

As long as I have lived my aunt was a powerful and loving presence in my life. As a child I was within walking distance of her house, where she lived with my Uncle James and four cousins. Whenever I could I would walk there. If it was dinner time I ate with my cousins without any ado. We were family. As I said, when my spiritual direction became deeply inward my mother did not know what to think. I longed to be understood or at the least, accepted for being on my own God-given mission.

It was only after she passed away that I felt the incredible spiritual presence of my Aunt Mildred. When I was around her I not only felt her understanding and acceptance of what was at work within me but she verbally cheered me on. She always spoke words of encouragement to my secret need without my having to speak. It was the perfect support for me. "He gave it to you because He knows you can handle it," she said. Moments later I was re-charged and ready to face the next assignment.

It became a common occurrence for me to visit my aunt in her office and simply sit and have coffee with her and my uncle. In those few moments, Aunt Mildred and Uncle James were strong links to the faith of our fathers. I felt tethered to a "rock," held as firmly as to the proverbial "bosom of Abraham." I knew that the power of this love, family love, would keep me from drifting too far. Aunt Mildred was also dedicated to her church and its ministries but she had something else. Like my mother, Aunt Mildred's spontaneous love for The Lord showed on her face. Her smile, like my mother's stays with me. While she lived she easily filled the void one expects to have at the lost their mother. It was as if, my mom said, "I am in your Aunt Mildred now. It was seamless, beautiful.

When Aunt Mildred smiled, all was right in my world.

Mother love can flow through any willing vessel.

Whenever I think of her I see that smile and I smile. She can never be gone from me. So I am thankful for those two wonderful women in my life but of course, there are many more gifts to give - thanks for, and I do. In Sanskrit, that feminine power in the Universe is known as Shakti, Kundalini Shakti, signifies the giver, Shakti, and the vessel (Kunda).

No person, no man, has lived without benefit of the feminine presence, although we may fail to show our appreciation. Thus in giving thanks for mother and aunt, who symbolize every mother or aunt who has nurtured those entrusted to their care, I must embrace the totality of that feminine potential as my wife, Uma, my daughters, sisters,cousins, friends.

We take the feminine for granted in the western world but SHE is an inseparable and powerful part of life. Our ego has nothing to do with that. It is so, even if we choose to ignore it. Sant Keshavadas taught me to look deep into the Divine Mother role. Reflecting on my aunt and mother, I can sense the Divine behind their smiles. Thank you Shakti. I say thank you, Shakti, for without the special love and power of women in the world, it would have already self-destructed. If the divinely feminine did not exist where did all those wonderful mothers, aunts, sisters and daughters, wives and friends come from. I am very happy to give thanks for the female presence on earth

Om nama Shakti namaha

What about you? What woman or girl-child has enriched your life or inspired your soul? Show them that you are grateful. In all your celebrating by eating turkey and cranberry sauce, enjoying a slice of pumpkin pie, be sure to give thanks to The Ultimate Presence for the ultimate present, woman-kind. I am grateful that you are here with us. It would be an unbearable planet without you.


Kitabu Roshi


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