In our society Valentine’s is meant to be a time of celebration of romantic love. But not everyone has “someone special” in their lives, so sometimes they feel a bit left out. They have no one to buy them candy or to take out to a romantic dinner. And this holiday, which is intended for loving couples, can leave some feeling isolated, alone and maybe even a little sad.
But I say that’s bunk! There is no reason to feel bad; none at all. And I’ll tell you why. Let’s take a quick look, a general overview, if you will, at Valentine’s Day.
Originally Valentine’s Day was a Western Christian holiday celebrating the martyrdom of a saint (or saints – we’re not really sure) named Valentinus. Lots of stories circle around this saint (or saints), but the point is, this was a holiday intended to feast and remember a dead person (or persons).
It wasn’t until Chaucer (yes, the same Chaucer who wrote the Canterbury Tales) that the holiday became associated with romantic love. 300-years later, people began giving gifts to show their love. Candy, flowers and keys (presumably to the heart) were the norm.
Then a dastardly empire took over the holiday: Hallmark! Yep! We were told that we weren’t good people unless we bought expensive cards and gave even more expensive dust-gathering gifts to prove, yes I said prove, that we love someone. And we must brag about it, too!
February 14th has become the one day each year that we must profess our love to… fill in the blank… for all the world to see.
Now, let’s get real. Rationally we all know that we don’t have to prove anything. We also don’t have to spend money to profess our love and we don’t have to have a significant other in order to love or be loved. It’s as simple as that! And we don’t have to be guilted by our commercial overlord into “sending the very best”.
Remember when we were kids in school, we had to give little Valentine cards to all our classmates? Nope, no romance there.
But just because someone isn’t in a romantic relationship, doesn’t mean that our commonly understood Valentine’s Day cannot be celebrated and enjoyed. We all have friends that we love. Most of us have pets that we love. And no one needs to spend lots of money.
It shouldn’t be about what we do, but what we feel.
If this holiday is supposed to be all about love, then just feel that love. The love we have for our family members and our closest friends. The love we feel for our fur or feather-babies. More importantly, the love that we have for ourselves. Don’t spend money to show your love, do it with a smile and a hug, with some kindness. Or better yet, show it with your time.
Why do we have to celebrate love only on February 14th? I love people and animals and myself every single day. Even all year long!
So if you feel the need to celebrate in some way, go out with friends and get a pizza. Stay at home and order Chinese. Snuggle-in with a good book or your favorite movie. Go hang out with your parents or siblings. Have a nice conversation with your significant other. Spend some extra time playing with your pet.
But don’t put too much stock into Valentine’s Day itself. After all, it can’t be that big of a holiday if no one gets the day off work for it!
Okay, that being said, I just want to say: Happy Valentine’s Day to you! I love you.
Joe and I would like to thank all of you for making this an amazing year of growth for Great Conjunction. We are here to help spread practical spirituality, understanding and tolerance and you turned out and made it possible! We also want to thank everyone who joined in as volunteers, speakers, readers and vendors. Many hands make the job easier and you made this year a joy.
All of us at Great Conjunction would like to thank everyone who donated this year. We are still a small organization and every donation is greeted with much excitement and dancing about. It is probably just as goofy looking as you imagine… and I don’t care!
Would you like to make us cheer and dance about? Your donation can do that!
John Thornton, Great Conjunction Co-Founder
It’s that time of year to ask, “What’s the appropriate thing to say?” Merry Christmas! But not everyone is Christian nor to all Christians celebrate Christmas. Happy Hanukkah! Not everyone is Jewish. Happy Kwanza! Not everyone celebrates that, either. Happy Holidays! Someone else is going to be offended by that one, too. It’s becoming a no-win situation.
Well, I for one, do not believe in a no-win situation. I also don’t believe in being too overly critical if someone’s personal beliefs are not perfectly met. I believe in an open heart.
In our country, at least, most people do celebrate Christmas. In my humble opinion it’s okay to wish someone a Merry Christmas, because the wish means more than just a blessing for the Christian holiday. It means “Good Cheer” and “Be Happy” and “Be Blessed” and “Peace to you” and “Love Everyone”. It’s a wish for joy and prosperity to everyone. Everyone, no matter who they are, who they worship, whether or not they worship or what they believe. Good will to all men and women. Period.
By the same token, the same holds true for Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, Happy Kwanza and every other seasonal greeting; they are offerings of love and peace. So bring on those seasonal greetings. It doesn’t matter to me which one! I feel the love behind it in my heart. And I want you to feel the love when I wish you Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays!
It’s that time of year to empty your bank accounts to show people how much we love them. Woo hoo! Look at all those gifts! Look at all those year-end bills! Is that love? Really?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I do love presents! I love to give them and I sure do love to get them. But I don’t think we need to prove our love by the volume of gifts or by how expensive they were.
A precious and cherished gift is usually something special, something simple or something handmade. No matter, it is always something from the heart.
We already received an amazing gift this year and it will be cherished always. It was a hand-painted card from a dear friend. It will be framed so that we may enjoy it for years to come.
So don’t go out and make retailers rich. Don’t try to out-buy Aunt Harriet. You don’t even have to give someone a trinket of any kind. Just give a smile, a heart-felt hug and your love. It’s precious.
“It’s that time of year when the world falls in love…” begins my favorite Christmas song. And it does seem to be fairly true. The hearts of many soften a little bit. And some people’s hearts soften a lot; just look at the Grinch!
But do our hearts soften enough? Do they soften for all? Religion and the Golden Rule teach us that we should love one another. We learn that we should not judge others. But we do judge and we don’t love everyone.
Far too often, especially these days, we hear that we shouldn’t love that group over there because they don’t look like us. Or because they don’t believe the same things we do. Or that we should shun someone for what they wear. We judge people unfairly and based upon little or no information. We generalize and judge.
That is not what religion teaches us. That is not what a good and true society does. That is not what a person with an open heart will do.
So each of us, let’s try to spread more love within our families, amongst our friends, within our communities and even around the world. And let’s not just do it this time each year. Let’s try to do it every day.
As another of my favorite songs – though it’s not a Christmas song - says, “Come on people now, smile on your brother. Everybody get together. Try to love one another right now.”
Thank you for letting me share a few thoughts that have been on my mind this season.
And it’s that time of year to wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a wonderful life! May you be blessed and may you love deeply and greatly.
Joe Thornton, Great Conjunction Co-Founder
But why should we only be thankful for the many blessings in our lives just on the holiday? Why aren’t we thankful, or grateful, all the time?
We all live busy, complex lives. We all get so tired sometimes. We all begin to take some things for granted. Things like the love we feel from those we hold dear; the glorious sky; the purr of a kitten and playfulness of a puppy; the conversations we have with friends and family each day; our health; the fact that we are alive. It’s easy to take some things for granted and we do it all the time.
Far too often we don’t fully appreciate what we have until we no longer have it. Our health is an obvious one. But what about the other joys in our lives? For example, what about our parents and others that we love. Do we speak to them or see them as often as we could or should? Do we let them know how much they mean to us?
What about the bank teller or the grocery clerk who make us smile? Do we stop to think about and appreciate them? How about the breeze that rustles our hair? Do we take the moment to enjoy that?
Gratitude is something we here at Great Conjunction Spiritual Center try to live every day. Of course it’s not easy, we’re human, we’re busy, we fail at times. But we do try. And we each of us can try just a little bit harder to be grateful for all the wonders, large and tiny, in our lives.
There’s not room enough, nor time enough, for me to share all the things for which I am truly grateful, plus I don’t want to bore you. But here are just a few:
I am grateful that I have a window in office bringing in the light to my beautiful plants. I am grateful for my dog, Helo, curled up at my feet as I write this. I am grateful for my amazing business partner, friend, supporter and husband. I am grateful that when I get up in the mornings, there’s a hot cup of tea waiting for me along with a smile and a hug. I am grateful for the opportunity to do the work that I do. I am grateful for each and every one of you; without whom I could not do these things.
Thank you very, very much.
So let’s try experience that thankfulness not just in November or on Thanksgiving Day, but every month and every day.
Gratitude. Let’s be grateful together. Every day.
Joe Thornton, Great Conjunction Co-Founder
John Thornton, Great Conjunction Co-Founder
Over the last few months we have been working on a new project that’s very close to our hearts – Guided meditation and Reiki in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Joe presented this idea to me this past summer and I thought it was a fantastic next step in Great Conjunction’s evolution.
Whether or not it was their decision to move to an assisted living or care facility, many residents start to feel fearful, angry and isolated. These feelings can be magnified by chronic illness, dementia and depression, but meditation and Reiki can help. I was pleasantly surprised to see the volume of studies and articles on the positive effects of Reiki on seniors.
Three specific research studies on the effects of Reiki on residents with dementia consistently showed residents to be less depressed according to pre- and post-scores of the Geriatric Depression Scale. In addition, residents were observed to be less confused, reported less physical pain, and displayed improved social skills and willingness to participate in group activities.
Guided meditation works in harmony with Reiki helping people to focus on the present moment, be more mindful and encourage the practice of non-judgment, acceptance, and kindness. Meditation reduces stress and helps people feel more in control.
By combining guided meditation, gentle music, and Reiki we hope to provide the spiritual tools that the care facility residents can use every day and the healing energy to help them feel better.
We have our first meeting with an assisted living and care facility next week and we will use this pilot program as the model as we expand this outreach to other facilities and “vulnerable populations”. We already have volunteers who are excited about expanding this program to Veterans, children and other vulnerable populations while offering subsidized training in Reiki and meditation to facility staff.
You can help! We are always looking for volunteers to help at our events, this and other outreach programs as well as at our expos. As this new program grows we will need people with Reiki training as well. We always need bottled water and healthy snacks for our volunteers. Additionally, anyone who is not Reiki trained but is interested in volunteering for this program may receive training and attunement at a substantial discount.
Always, your continued support of our lectures and Expos ~ by bring your friends, sharing on social media and just taking the time to show up makes everything Great Conjunction does, and wants to do, possible.
Thank you for your donations and your support; you not only make it all possible, but you are why we do this. As always, thank you.
See you soon!