Day 31 of the Feast
Dear One,

The door was closed to the kitchen which was odd. I walked in and surprised my husband was arranging a bouquet of roses for me. The rain had been coming down off and on all day, and if you know me, you know I love rain! My Valentine's Day was beautiful and had started early.

Years ago, V. day often was accompanied by sadness. I had felt like love had passed me by. Then when I was 39, Valentine's Day was coming up, and I decided not to wait for love. Though it may sound trite, I felt it in my bones. I realized I already had love. I already was love. It was inside me, it is all around me. It is what I connect to every day in meditation. Valentine's Day was going to be a celebration for me.

Soon, instead of shutting the radio off when a love song came on, I started to sing them to myself, I wrote love notes to myself, and I took myself out on dates. I made vows that I was the one, and I would never leave myself (especially for someone else!)

Then, the practice deepened. I began to offer those love songs to God (or whatever/whoever you want to call the benevolent force that conducts this orchestra of life) and I still do. I've come to see my life is a prayer. It's easy when there's joy and when you feel good and life is easy, but I come to see life as a deep dialogue with Creator, even when I am not perfect and am facing difficult emotions, such as jealousy, stress, and strife.

Love, whether it be the emotion, the lack of it, or the longing for it, has one aim: to lead us from a limited, conditional, personal experience of love, toward an expansive, unconditional, blissful experience of love.

Here's a description of love from the Corinthians in the Bible. Whether you read this through the lens of loving another, loving yourself, loving God, or being loved by God, it is powerful.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Thank you for putting your spirituality first during this time of deep practice. I am practicing with you.

Love, Sarah

Sarah McLean
Director, Feast for the Soul, Inc.

P.S. The Feast is cost-free and commercial free. It's open to anyone who wants to join. You are never asked to buy or upgrade. Our overhead is low, since everyone (but our web-designer and this email service) works absolutely free. Our operating budget is less than $6000 a year. If each person who observes the Feast donates 50 cents, we'd be golden! Click this link if you feel moved to donate.
Meditation Teacher Highlight
Carl McColman is a contemplative practitioner and author who offers seekers ways to "respond to the healing love of God through prayer, silence, and discernment, so to embody a joyful life of creativity, service and delight.” He does this by passionately encouraging his audience to embrace contemplative spirituality, to drink from the deep wells of Christian wisdom including scripture and the wisdom of saints and mystics, and to apply such insight to the challenges and concerns of everyday life.

Spiritual Practice Tip
Forty. A time of Preparation.

For those observing the Feast for 40 days, there are nine more days left. I ask you, What do you feel that the Feast is preparing you for?

The number 40 is significant number in many religions:
  • In the book of Genesis, the flood which destroyed the earth was brought about by 40 days and nights of rain.
  • The Hebrews spent 40 years in the wilderness before reaching the land promised to them by God.
  • Mulla Husayn (of Bahai Faith) spent 40 days fasting and praying before leaving Karbala.
  • Moses (Musa) fasted for 40 days before receiving the ten commandments on Mount Sinai
  • Guru Nanak is also said to have spent 40 days with a Sufi saint in Nahoria Bazar, Sirsa
  • In Islam, Prophet Ilyas (Elijah) spent 40 days in the wilderness before the angel appeared to him with God's message
  • Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness in preparation for his ministry.

Hindus observe a 40-day fasting period called 'Mandal kal'. Muslims even today fast and pray for 40 days during the Ramzan period.

Today, Christians worldwide recognize Ash Wednesday, the start of 40 days before  Easte r called the period of Lent. It's generally a time of withdrawal during which Christians replicate Jesus' withdrawal into the desert for 40 days. It's a season of reflection and preparation often observed by fasting, both from food and festivities. Though some still fast during lent, it's more common to surrender a particular vice such as drinking alcohol, eating favorite foods, or smoking. It's a time for prayer and penance.

What does 40 days mean to you? How do you feel about your ability to observe this practice?
Living the Feast
I'll leave you with a beautiful teaching from one of my favorite American mystics, Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)....

We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles. Meantime, within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related; the eternal One.

And this deep power in which we exist, and whose beatitude is all accessible to us, is not only self-sufficing and perfect in every hour, but the act of seeing and the thing seen, the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object, are one.

We see the world piece by piece, as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree; but the whole, of which these are the shining parts, is the soul…

…From within or from behind, a light shines through us upon things, and makes us aware that we are nothing, but the light is all. A man is the facade of a temple wherein all wisdom and all good abide… 

....When it breathes through his intellect, it is genius; when it breathes through his will, it is virtue; when it flows through his affection, it is love…

…Language cannot paint it with his colors. It is too subtle. It is undefinable, unmeasurable, but we know that it pervades and contains us.
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