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Sacred spaces

The following story is taken from the December 2017 Advent newsletter of the Eckhart Society:

There is a wonderful Chasidic story about the child of a rabbi who used to wander in the woods.  At first his father let him wander, but over time he became concerned.  The woods were dangerous.  The father did not know what lurked there. He decided to discuss the matter with his child. 

One day he took him aside and said, "You know, I have noticed that each day you walk into the woods.  I wonder, why do you go there?

The boy said to his father, "I go there to find God."

"That is a very good thing," the father replied gently.  "I am glad you are searching for God.  But, my child, don't you know that God is the same everywhere?" 

"Yes," the boy answered, "but I'm not."

( David J. Wolpe, in Teaching Your Children About God [quoted in Spiritual Literacy: Reading the Sacred in Everyday Life, Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, 1998 Scribner]). Photo from Last Child in the Woods video,

Posted on Sunday, December 10, 2017 at 11:21AM by Registered CommenterLinda Brown Holt | CommentsPost a Comment | References1 Reference

Is Daoism kid stuff?

The Chinese online feature magazine,, published an article written in 2016 titled, "Why Taoism isn't suitable for children." I did a double-take when I saw it, and can only chalk it up to a semantical mix-up of sorts.

Here is the article:

The feature begins by suggesting that parents should not attempt to "convert" their children to Daoism. I would suggest that parents pass on their religious and spiritual views, but seldom engage in the harsh practices or "force feeding" implied by the word "convert."

It has been my observation that when children are not brought up in a religious tradition, they are unlikely to embrace one when they reach maturity. (Of course, this may be the intent of the atheistic government behind this feature publication.) The other alternative is often that children without any religious training may grow up to be easy targets of extreme religions or cults.

(Photo by Linda Brown Holt in Beijing, October 2008)

Daoism would seem to me to be an ideal religion in which to bring up children, provided the parents focused on the general concepts of balance, harmony, respect for nature, and the idea of the Dao. Many children already enjoy martial arts and healing practices which embody the Daoist philosophy.

I would agree that forcing children to memorize lengthy scriptures and to embrace rigorous purification rites involving fasting and not sleeping would be a bad idea, perhaps even a form of child abuse. But the basic tenets of Daoism would form an important part of the child's personal development. The more dogmatic religious aspects (rituals, scriptures, etc.) could come later as the child matured.

In answer to the question, "Is Daoism suitable for children?" I would answer a resounding, "Yes!" But without coercion and keeping to the basic concepts that will help them enjoy and appreciate life in all its richness.

Posted on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 at 05:28PM by Registered CommenterLinda Brown Holt | CommentsPost a Comment | References1 Reference


The priest does not turn bread and wine into the body and blood of the divine. The world already is God’s body and blood. It’s already here, there is nothing to change, to transform, or to transubstantiate. The pantheists, animists, and panentheists knew this all along.

Before Socrates, Thales taught that the world is full of gods. I say, the universe is not only full of but is God. The great time bending, infinite sea of space and eternity is the body of the divine, the tides and gravitational swells its blood, and when we take a bite, our pinched myopia turns inside out. It is not the elements that have been transformed by the whisper of the priest, but we ourselves when confronted by the scope of Who we are.

(Vision of the Cosmos, below, by Hildegard of Bingen.)

Posted on Thursday, July 20, 2017 at 01:49PM by Registered CommenterLinda Brown Holt | CommentsPost a Comment | References1 Reference

Summer dawns on International Day of Yoga

The first day of summer, June 21, 2017, is being observed as the International Day of Yoga. The proclamation by the United Nations follows:

Is Yoga a religion? A fitness regime? A community-building exercise? A philosophy of life? It can be all of these and more. Yoga is compatible with all positive expressions of religion, or it can serve as a religion on its own. It has also been proven beneficial to those with no interest in any religion.

Yoga works equally well for groups as it does for individual practice. When entered into with respect and gentleness, Yoga has been proven to be a positive force in people's lives, building self-confidence, grace, strength, health, positive attitude, and community spirit.

You don't have to be an athlete or warrior to embrace this pathway to well being. Find a sympathetic teacher or a beginner-friendly instruction book and give Yoga a try. It's a way to keep summer in our lives all year long.


Posted on Tuesday, June 20, 2017 at 06:19PM by Registered CommenterLinda Brown Holt | CommentsPost a Comment

Sunday morning guilt

I usually don’t take my daily walk in the morning. Between Facebook, Yoga, and other activities, I just don’t have the time before I launch into my work day or weekend schedule. Afternoon and evening have become walking time choices for me.

Today was different, though, because I needed to leave by 2 p.m. to attend a concert event I’d be writing about. Although it was already 80 degrees Fahrenheit and humid, I decided to step out for a routine stroll around the one-mile-square town in which I live.

It was Sunday, and heading out around 10, I encountered something I had not experienced locally in many years: churchgoing. When I feel the need to attend church, I go to one a half-hour south of here, for a variety of reasons. It has been a while since I attended or thought about the churches in my home town.

My town is a small city with a large variety of places to worship. There are six mainline churches, six historically black churches, and one synagogue. And that’s not including the township. Hardly a block passed under my sneakers than I stepped aside to allow an individual or small family to proceed to the ecclesia of their choice.

There were moms and dads (this being Fathers Day), with children in tow. A single person, probably over 50, tried the different doors at the Presbyterian church. As I walked by across the street, the bold entr’acte of the Episcopal organ filled the air through open, red doors. People were jostling to park on the street around the always-busy Roman Catholic church, while an elderly woman, helped by a friend, ascended the front steps of the Methodist. If you think of Sunday morning as a quiet, lazy time of day, you haven’t been to my home town.

I became quickly conscious of several things, since this was not my normal routine. For one, I was thirsty and had forgotten my water, so I took a detour to the Mexican restaurant where it was standing room only for Fathers Day breakfast. Another was that I needed to walk on the other side of the street to capture the unaccustomed morning shade.

And I felt something else, as I strolled in shorts, straw hat, and un-ironed shirt. A lack of guilt. I can’t tell you how many years it’s been since I stopped attending the local churches and then would take complicated detours to avoid parishioners. I don’t know whether their veiled looks of recognition indicated disapproval or embarrassment or nothing at all. But, whether true or not, I sensed very deeply that people I once attended church with now thought badly of me, and that any guilt I felt was well deserved.

In the past, I would take elaborate alternative routes to get by the Methodist or Presbyterian church if I happened to be out and about on Sunday morning. It was hard to avoid the Episcopalians since I lived a few blocks away on their street. Initially, after I stopped attending services, one of the parishioners who knew me by sight would wave or worse still, flag me down and call out cheerfully, “Haven’t seen you in church recently!” It was clearly a “gotcha” moment. I would smile weakly and wave back, resolving to take a different path in the future.

There was nothing wrong with these churches and their members. The faithful cut a charming portrait of small town life, walking to services in their good clothes, not exactly the white gloves, hats, and summer coats of my childhood churchgoing, but purposefully selected to distinguish Sunday from every-day life. But the guilt I experienced when I encountered them was real. I felt like the black sheep, the self-afflicted pariah. I was the prodigal son who didn’t come back.

But today was different. The sun was shining and all the curbside gardens burst with colorful lilies and wildflowers. Bright clouds chased the dark to the far edge of a blue-bound sky. Passing on the sidewalk, the churchgoers and I were people with the same destination whose paths had crossed for a moment, then seamlessly unraveled into our own inevitable ways.

Sometimes it’s what we don’t bring with us that makes our journey light. Next time, and for the future, I’ll bring my water, but leave my guilt behind.


Posted on Sunday, June 18, 2017 at 11:48AM by Registered CommenterLinda Brown Holt | CommentsPost a Comment
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