The tradition of baking and sharing holiday cookies is one that my family enjoys. Of course, I like to make our treats as healthy as possible. I have special memories of the delicious cookies that my mother made at Christmas, and I’ve updated her recipe, making it with healthy ingredients. It’s our favorite holiday cookie recipe, and I’d like to share it with you.









  • 2 cups ground pecans: I use a wooden rolling pin to crush the pecans
  • 2 cups flour: I use a combination of 1 cup organic oat flour (freshly ground from organic whole oat groats), ½ cup coconut flour, and ½ cup sprouted spelt flour. (If you prefer a less crumbly cookie, substitute kamut flour for the oat flour.)
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • ½ cup dried maple syrup powder
  • ½ cup organic salt-free butter
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • 2 tsp. high quality vanilla extract

For sprinkling on cookies:

  • 1 teaspoon dried maple syrup powder
  • 1 tsp. coconut milk powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon


  1. Soften butter and mix with coconut oil and vanilla.
  2. Sift dry ingredients (flour, salt, and ½ cup of maple syrup powder) and add to wet ingredients.
  3. Fold in the crushed pecans.
  4. Chill for at least 30 minutes, but longer is better.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  6. Roll the dough into little balls and arrange on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
  7. Cook for 5 minutes, remove from oven and sprinkle with a mix of 1 tsp. of maple sugar, 1 tsp. coconut milk powder (optional) and 1 tsp. cinnamon.
  8. Lower oven to 350 degrees F and bake another 5-7 minutes until golden.

We hope you enjoy these scrumptious, healthy cookies as much as we do. Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

— Donnie


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be the light

In the midst of the busyness and celebration of the holidays, let us all as a collective pause to shine forth with loving kindness and goodness.

Be the Light

The Winter Solstice marks the longest night of the year, and the gradual but noticeable shift toward the light. Bonfires, candles, and twinkling holiday lights remind us of how even a small light illuminates the darkness.

“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”Mother Teresa 

Be the Light 

At this time of festivity, let us draw inspiration from the Christmas Psalms, and “Be the Light” that shines forth into the world.

A Trilogy of Christmas Psalms: “Sing to the Lord a New Song” (Psalm 96); “God Reigns! Earth Rejoices” (Psalm 97); “Joy to the World” (Psalm 98).

Be the Light

The ancient hymn “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is sung during Advent and on Christmas Day. Believed to have originated with a community of fifth-century Jewish Christians, the hymn was perhaps part of their Hanukkah festival. The text contains many elements of the Hanukkah celebration, with remembrance of wandering in the wilderness, darkness and death, but also the celebration of light.

“Dispel the shadows of the night and turn our darkness into light. Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel shall come to you, O Israel. O come, O King of nations, bind in one the hearts of all mankind.”

Be the Light

At this sacred time, I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, and Joyous Solstice, and a New Year blessed with love, light, peace, and wellbeing. Let us pray for one another that we may all “Be the light.”

— Donnie



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In my observation, far too many people today are merely surviving instead of thriving. I attribute most of the erosion of well being—including the growing prevalence of chronic, degenerative diseases—to the increased stressors of contemporary society. Although the role of stress in disease has long been recognized, it is now more fully understood through the advances of scientific research.

Perhaps the biggest breakthrough in cancer has been the discovery of the relationship between the sympathetic nervous system and cancer growth and reoccurrence. This was first detected though observational research showing a strong association between cancer patients on beta-blockers and a reduction in reoccurrence rates, a slowing of cancer growth, and decreased angiogenesis. 1-6 Researchers studying the relationship of vagal nerve activity (measured through heart rate variability) and the neuro-modulation of tumors found improved overall survival rate in cancer patients when the parasympathetic nervous system (the system responsible for calming the body) is activated.7

These are exciting discoveries, and support my life’s work on the importance of using herbal adaptogens and nervines to help the body adapt to physical and emotional stressors. Neither disease nor treatment of disease, including natural approaches through health optimization, can be described in a linear reductionist model, which is what almost everyone attempts to do. It is the collective effect of the perturbations in multiple underlying networks that result in the symptoms of disease, thus effective treatment should be directed at strengthening and harmonizing all systems of the organism.

Because modern medicine and specifically pharmaceutical medications do not offer permanent solutions, we must support our innate life force in building resilience. I feel more strongly than ever before that adaptogenic formulations, together with nervine formulations, are the most important supplemental support for protection against chronic disease and the promotion of optimal health and a long life.

A Practical Approach to Supporting Optimal Health

In my clinical practice, which now spans three decades, my main goal is to provide comprehensive gentle medicine that lends a helping hand to the Life Force in building and sustaining an optimal state of wellbeing. The following three objectives are the foundation of the medical model (Mederi Care) and the foundational adaptogenic formulas I have created:

  • Build robustness and resilience
  • Enhance auto-regulation
  • Enhance auto-organization

Everything within us and around us is interconnected. Interconnectedness, within, is achieved through networks on many levels, across cells, tissues, and organs (these types of networks are called multi-scale networks).

The entire biological system can be viewed as a nested network within networks within networks with the overall control acting like a Global Autoregulation Network.

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Supporting the innate Life Force and the body’s capacity for self-healing by using the least invasive treatment possible yields a system-wide benefit, optimizing and restoring the body’s self-healing abilities and minimizing side effects. Supporting the Life Force includes:

  • Enhancing anabolic restoration and systemic energy, harmony and efficiency
  • Expanding adaptive capacity
  • Building protective capacity

Supporting the Adaptive Capacity
All living systems have the intrinsic ability to respond, to counteract, and to adapt to external and internal sources of disturbance. Homeodynamics, one of the basic concepts of functional medicine, states that as human beings, we are an integral part of our environment rather than creatures that merely adapt to our environment. The body maintains biochemical individuality through continual physiologic and metabolic processes. A crucial component of the homeodynamic space is the stress response, by virtue of which a living system senses disturbance and initiates a series of events for maintenance, repair, adaptation, remodeling and survival.9 As we age, there tends to be progressive shrinkage of the homeodynamic space!

Adaptogenic formulas enhance dynamic stability through auto-regulation and organization.

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A Graphic Representation of Adaptive Homeostasis

Shown here, in addition to the normal or physiological range, are both positive and negative adaptive ranges that can be transiently induced via signal transduction pathways in response to sub-toxic, non-damaging stimuli. For example, when organisms are exposed to a diet rich in amino acids, they turn off production of amino acid synthetases, thus decreasing the capacity to synthesize amino acids. This is a case of negative homeostasis. Restoration of a ‘normal’ diet reverses the transient decrease in capacity and restores function in the normal homeostatic range.

How Mild Stress Can Have Positive Effects

Although unrelenting stress is never beneficial, not all stress is bad. In a process known as hormesis, exposure to mild stress triggers cellular responses with biologically beneficial effects. Single or multiple exposures to low doses of otherwise harmful agents, such as irradiation, food limitation, heat stress, hypergravity, reactive oxygen species, and other free radicals has a variety of anti-aging and longevity-extending hormetic effects. A result of hormetic amplification is an increase in the homeodynamic space of a living system, with enhanced innate defense capacity and a reduced load of damaged macromolecules.

Hormetic strengthening of the homeodynamic space provides wider margins for metabolic fluctuation, stress tolerance, adaptation and survival.10-12

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The diagram above shows the four common types of dose-response relationships that have been identified.

  • The top left (linear) is the one we are most familiar with, where starting from a ‘zero’ dose, there is a linear relationship between increasing dose and the observed response.
  • In the right top (threshold) corner, we know that sometimes there is no response until a certain threshold is reached, followed by a linear relationship. Sometimes there is a lag phase until a response is observed.
  • As shown on the bottom two curves, what we are discovering is that in many cases the dose response relationship at low doses does not follow either a linear or threshold model but shows different responses over zones of high doses compared to low doses.
  • This dose-response relationship can be either J shaped (bottom left) or inverted U shaped (bottom right) depending on what is being measured and the model it is being measured in.13

To be continued…

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Donnie Yance Blog Post

St. Francis has been a major influence in my life since I was in my early twenties and searching for Truth. I studied a bit of theology in school, and being brought up as an Italian Roman Catholic, had more questions than answers. I thought, “Either there is a God, our faith should be our guiding force in our lives, and we should serve and love God and others, or we should stop pretending.” It seemed so simple, and so clear.

I looked for Truth in other faiths, but Francis pointed me back to Catholicism. I recall one day thinking, “If St. Francis could live with such clarity, compassion, and generosity of spirit and never stray from his faith, nor even question it, who am I to think I need to?” When I discovered Eastern Christianity from an Eastern Rite Franciscan monastery, I found my home. I joined the Order of St. Francis as a Secular (3rd Order) Franciscan, took vows, and spent close to three years living in a Byzantine Eastern Catholic Rite Franciscan Order in New Canaan, Connecticut.

I find the teachings of St. Francis to be as relevant today as they were back in the 13th century. Consider this letter that he wrote to all leaders of his day, reflect on the world we live in now, and contemplate how we each can do our part to create ‘heaven on earth.’

Letter to the Rulers of the People, by St. Francis of Assisi

“Keep a clear eye toward life’s end. Do not forget your purpose and destiny as God’s creature. What you are in His sight is what you are and nothing more. Do not let worldly cares and anxieties or the pressures of office blot out the divine life within you or the voice of God’s spirit guiding in your great task of leading humanity to wholeness. If you open yourself to God and His plan printed deeply in your heart, God will open himself to you.

Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received – fading symbols of honor, trappings of power – but only what you have given: a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.

Embrace the God of us all and His Word wherever it surfaces. Imitate His preference for the poor and powerless. Enter into His plan of liberating all peoples from everything that oppresses them and obstructs their development as human beings. Do not grow tired of working for peace among all people.

Help remove unjust social structures and patterns of exploitation. Uphold the rights and dignity of the human person. Foster the creation of a society where human life is cherished and where all peoples of the planet can enjoy its gifts, which God created for all in a spirit of love and justice and equality.”

The Eastern approach to theology, just as in medicine, is open to the mystery of life. Although there were many things in Buddhism that resonated with my being, there was a central piece missing for me. My faith is rooted in Christianity, and centered in the teachings of Christ and the message that God humbled Himself and loved us enough to become one of us, only to be crucified, and then to forgive and love us still. This great gift from God enlivens my faith and awakens my desire to serve my fellow human beings, animals and Nature.

Although I am devoted to my faith and the theology of Eastern Christianity, I am drawn to learn from other faiths as well. I recently joined a Mussar group to further my theological studies, to find practical ways to use all of my being for good, and to better the world in which we live. The Mussar movement is a Jewish ethical, educational and cultural movement that developed in the 19th century in Lithuania, particularly among Orthodox Lithuanian Jews. The Hebrew term “Mussar” is from the book of Proverbs 1:2 and means moral conduct, instruction or discipline. It espouses expressing your faith through living action, practicing loving kindness, and caring for all in need, but especially the poor and oppressed. Mussar is essentially the practice of loving your neighbor as yourself.

I am fortunate in many ways that all of my work is my ministry. I believe as Pope Francis states, “Before there was God there was Love, and God came from Love.” We must remember this and live accordingly, recognizing that we are all part of one family.

In celebration of the feast day of St. Francis, I’d like to share with you a bit about St. Francis:

• More books have been written about St. Francis than any other saint.
• His “Canticle of Brother Sun, Sister Moon” was the first major poem written in Italian.
• Franciscans established the first college in the New World in Mexico City in 1536.
• The City of San Francisco is named after him.
• New Mexico’s second Spanish governor founded a new city at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in 1607, which he called La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís (the Royal Town of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi).
• Arizona’s highest mountains are called the San Francisco Peaks.
• In Arkansas both a river and town bear the name St. Francis.
• One of the precepts of St. Francis states that followers cannot bear weapons or kill. Thus, St. Francis and his followers were partially responsible for the downfall of the feudal system. Serfs were freed and the number of petty wars was reduced.
• Our present Pope is the first Pope in history to take the name Francis in honor of St. Francis; and he is a Jesuit.
• St. Francis is the patron saint of peace, of ecology, of Italy, and of animals.

Donnie Yance Blog Post 2

Saint Francis had great love and respect for the sanctity of all life, seeing all creation as his brothers and sisters in the Lord. On one occasion he came upon a merchant carrying two small lambs to market. Moved by the plaintive bleating of the lambs, he caressed them and asked the peasant, “Why do you torment my brothers, the lambs?” When he learned that the man intended to sell them for slaughter, he declared, “That will not happen!” and bought them. At Portiuncula for many years he had a tame lamb that followed him everywhere, even into the church, where the lamb’s bleating mingled with the chants of the brethren.

I leave you with this prayer for the Blessing of Pets, which commonly take place on Saint Francis’ feast day, October 4th:

Blessed are you, Lord God, maker of all living creatures. You called forth fish in the sea, birds in the air and animals on the land. You inspired Saint Francis to call all of them his brothers and sisters. We ask you to bless this pet. By the power of your love, enable it to live according to your plan. May we always praise you for all your beauty in creation. Blessed are you, Lord our God, in all your creatures! Amen.

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Pursuit of Truth requires being and listening, rather than doing and assuming; and slowing down rather than speeding up. You must cultivate Truth. The great Eclectic School of Medicine of the early 1900’s had a Motto, which I stand by today. It read: “To Love the Truth, To Prove the Truth, To Apply the Truth, and To Promote the Truth.”

In today’s times, the term “evidence based medicine” is often used and in the past decade has been readily adopted largely by the naturopathic field when speaking in the context of plant-based medicines (the primary “toolbox” of wholistic practitioners) in an effort to gain more acceptance through applying equally high standards of “safety and validity” to those of conventional medicine. However, this is often far from what can be called “truth” since the motive behind clinical research is not to prove “truth” but to have a drug or device approved by the FDA. The problem with using “evidence based medicine” exclusively, rather than “evidence informed medicine”, which I prefer, is that the term originated from the randomized controlled trial research paradigm used to study drugs. Such clinical studies are set up specifically in a reductionist method, removing all variables, which is essential for a drug.

Unfortunately, this method is not applicable to a whole-systems approach where we are constantly personalizing and adapting treatment protocols to the individual, altering that protocol as the circumstances change, as well as using plants, which are pleotropic in their effects. Therefore, while there is a tremendous scientific basis for the therapeutic benefits of plants and nutrients in healing, they tend to not be studied in the most widely-accepted, gold standard, rigorous method designed for drugs, yet that does not make them any less valid or “evidence based” in my opinion. In other words, “evidence based medicine” doesn’t always mean it is the right medicine or the best medicine and we need to look beyond and apply a multitude of lenses to discover this (ie; truth).

Over the past two decades I have spent an average of two hours a day compiling research data on botanical and nutritional medicines. I combine this valuable, credible data with my vast knowledge of historical uses and indications, coupled with three decades of clinical experience, to develop safe, effective, and therapeutic protocols that produce results.

Second, much of what is approved as “truth” in the medical arena—including pharmaceutical drugs and various treatments—actually has little validity and can be more detrimental than doing nothing. The attempt to gain approval of a drug, device, or treatment method is not a pursuit of truth, but unfortunately, is often driven by self -interest, and lacks the necessary ingredient of wisdom.

When it comes to postulating truths about herbal and dietary medicine, the medical establishment is not only frequently incorrect and dogmatic, but often maintains a position that is opposite to the truth, especially when it comes to herbs. Examples of this include “Don’t take herbs prior to surgery, because they are blood thinners and will inhibit clotting,” or “Don’t take echinacea if you have a blood cancer, such as leukemia, because it could stimulate the growth of leukemia cells.” Misinformation is rampant, and the internet has exacerbated the problem. For this reason, I recommend against searching for information on the internet about herbs and cancer or diet and cancer. There is an abundance of bad information and a lack of wisdom and integrity to guide you towards the truth.

What is Wisdom?
“The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance – it is the illusion of knowledge” – Daniel Boorstein

Wisdom involves an understanding of the nature, source, and limits of knowledge, together with the degree to which we are able to “teotl” (to understand with the Divine Spirit, taken from the Aztec religion).

1 “The greatest scientists are artists as well,” said Albert Einstein. For Einstein, insight did not come from logic or mathematics. It came, as it does for artists, from intuition and inspiration. Einstein also said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” – Albert Einstein

Truth involves a willingness to accept that the natural and the supernatural coexist. But this is not the way of modern conventional medicine. As a result, the medical profession is painfully shortsighted and makes egregious errors, including making proclamations about health that prove to be incorrect.

The Dangerous Assumptions of Modern Medicine
“It seemed to me that a careful examination of the room and the lawn might possibly reveal some traces of this mysterious individual. You know my methods, Watson. There was not one of them, which I did not apply to the inquiry. And it ended by my discovering traces, but very different ones from those which I had expected.” – The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1893)

When I was five years old, my mother was told, if they removed my tonsils, it would improve my health and reduce the incidence of sore throats and infections. It wasn’t too many years later that the standard-of-care regarding prophylactic removal of the tonsils was stopped, and the tonsils were recognized as an important part of the immune system. But it was too late for me, and for millions of other children who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s.

Other examples of non-truths we have been led to believe are, “Eggs and butter contain cholesterol, so to avoid heart disease don’t eat them, but instead eat vegetable margarine.” “Foods that contain natural vitamin K such as fruits and vegetables should be avoided when taking Coumadin (warfarin).” “Nonfat milk products, such as yogurt, milk and cheese, are healthier for you than whole dairy products.” “Avoid all soy foods including traditional soy foods if you have or have had breast cancer.” The list goes on and on.

I am continually appalled by how much of modern medicine is not based in truth, and worse, is accepted without any evidence. For example, not so long ago, if you had a small hormonal positive breast cancer, the standard-of-care was a mastectomy with lymph node dissection, with a full course of high dose chemotherapy that included three agents, followed by tamoxifen therapy, regardless of your age. No one questioned this practice, or asked for evidence demonstrating that the protocol significantly enhanced life or improved quality-of-life. The sad truth is that the accepted protocol did not benefit the vast majority of women. A small percentage of women were helped, but many others were irreparably damaged by the treatment, and would have been better off with no treatment except for hormone inhibition.

Yet herbal medicine, used for thousands of years and documented in countless historical medical textbooks, folklore, and in many cases re-validated by modern medicine, is falsely accused of not being “evidence based.”

An Alternative View: Logical Positivism
One of my dissatisfactions with conventional medicine and traditional alternative medicine is the closed-mindedness of both. In the pursuit of truth, we must seek open-mindedness. Conventional medicine encompasses an inherently restricted set of categories and paradigms for understanding patients and diseases. But given that no single method is suitable for all patients, problems, and situations, this approach is far from optimal.

I propose logical positivism as an alternative to the current dogmatic, narrow view of modern conventional medicine. Logical positivism is spiritual-rationality in the most pristine form. It is considered culturally universal in traditional healing systems, and incorporates traditional wisdom, scientific knowledge, logic, intuition, and prayer, making it applicable to all modalities and situations.

Logical positivism is something I fully embrace and have incorporated into the foundation of my approach. Mederi Care, more formally known as the Eclectic Triphasic Medical System (ETMS), is not a combination of “bits and pieces” from different systems trying to find synergy or integration, but rather a unified approach driven by extensive research and clinical application.

Embracing the Eclectic: The ETMS
The word eclectic implies a philosophical integration of several distinct styles or approaches to form the most favorable perspective. A central characteristic of the ETMS is the commitment to examining whatever techniques work in therapy, regardless of the different theories that spawned them. Eclecticism, the root word of ETMS, is the opposite of closed-mindedness, because it pulls together a number of theories and systems, old and new, into a harmonious model of health and healing. The ETMS offers a much more comprehensive approach than any single theory alone.

The ETMS is unique in that it applies medical scientific rigor, creativity, intuition, and prayer to the practice of medicine and individual patient care. In developing the paradigm of the ETMS, I have been greatly influenced by Albert Einstein as well as the great jazz saxophonist, John Coltrane (who was also fascinated by Einstein).


Coltrane and Einstein both honed their gifts of intuition; the first, to create unequalled jazz; the second, to transform our understanding of the universe by transcending mathematical limitations with intuition. Einstein improvised using what he called gedankenexperiments (German for thought experiments), which provided him with a mental picture of the outcome of experiments no one could perform. On the one hand, Einstein used mathematical rigor; on the other, creativity and intuition. Similarly, Coltrane merged his brilliant musicianship with creativity and intuition to take jazz in an entirely new direction.

Mederi Care: Strategies and Challenges
A cornerstone of the ETMS is the focus of gentle health-promoting herbal and dietary medicine that assists the innate healing capacity of the body and enhances all auto-regulatory systems. The ETMS proposes that a healthy system is one that self-regulates in the face of network perturbations. This type of humble medicine is as important as the highly selective targeted molecular therapies that are widely promoted as the pinnacle of modern medicine. In fact, the ETMS approach integrates well with targeted molecular therapies. Unfortunately, many conventional medical practitioners fail to recognize the value of supporting the body’s intrinsic healing ability.

For example, confronting cancer requires combining multiple influences and interrelationship dynamics into a comprehensive strategy. Instead of focusing on a single root cause, the ETMS addresses the spectrum of root causes to create a unified, multi-focused protocol that combines ‘gentle-macro’ medicine with appropriate ‘strong-micro’ medicine, all tailored to the individual. Success is measured by outcome, quality of life, and health care costs, which are the most important parameters.

The Unique Intelligence of the Plant Kingdom
One of the cornerstones of the ETMS is botanical medicine. In contrast, modern conventional medicine often overlooks the plant world. We take plants for granted, and yet, they nourish us, purify our air, and offer remedies for our ills.

According to the criteria of Aristotle, plants actually might have a soul.

3 Plants eat, drink, sleep, communicate, sense, heal, respond, move (albeit slowly), adapt, protect, and not only survive, but thrive even in the harshest of environments.
Plants have a Life Force, just as we do. Traditional herbal medicine and the ETMS are directed towards gentle enhancement of the Life Force, and plants are our companions in this journey.

The Eclectic Physicians referred to the Life Force as the “Vis conservatrix” which was described as vitality, vital powers, and conservative power. They believed the most effective therapeutic change is one that accesses and supports the individual’s innate capacity to heal, and practiced according to their motto, “Sustain the Life Force.”

The foundation of the ETMS is to support and enhance the Life Force. Through various toolboxes, the ETMS not only addresses the molecular complexity of a particular disease, leading to the identification of disease characteristics and pathways, but also the molecular relationships among apparently distinct (patho) phenotypes, the microenvironment, and of utmost importance, the host.

Purity of Heart and the Pursuit of Truth
“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” – John Wooden

John Wooden is perhaps the greatest basketball coach ever. He was also a great wise teacher and guru to many of us. He exuded intelligence and class, and he is an inspiration for many of us who try hard to instill the concept of teamwork, honesty and fairness in our work and in our life.

In seeking Truth, we must have Purity of Heart, which enables Clear Thinking (Wisdom), Capacity to Reason (Intelligence), the Insight of Truth (Understanding), and the Harvest of Good. The greater our purity of heart, the greater is our ability to find truth.

To understand means to find harmony between the idea (arising from above, in communion with the Divine), and the reflection below, the manifestation of the idea. In other words “as above, so below.” There must be a connecting link between the object and the subject, the knowing (what can be explained and understood) and the unknowing (what cannot be entirely explained or understood). We must be not only willing to be open to this concept, but see it as essential to understanding truth and the ultimate pursuit of healing.

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Living a spirit filled life

Living A Spirit-Filled Life

In life, the soul does not grow in the same way as the body, although we often speak as if it does. It’s a great gift, that as the body grows older and begins to lose strength, the soul gains strength—if we nourish our spiritual being. The mystery of spiritual growth occurs only if we are open to it.

We cannot live life fully being spiritually stagnant, merely functioning, lacking imagination, with knowledge but no wisdom, with little or no creativity, without the expression of art and music, without the pursuit of selfless love. The book of Psalms tells us, “If today you hear my voice, harden not your hearts.” We must listen, with our hearts and souls, in order to follow our true path, which is the path of love. Love cannot be extracted, commanded, demanded or wheedled. It can only be freely given.

I find inspiration in the writings of those who honor a spirit-filled life, including monks and philosophers—even occasionally, those who present themselves to the world as comedians. I collect writings that nourish my soul, and read them as a practice of meditation and reflection.

The comedian/philosopher George Carlin wrote this about life:

“We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less. These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships.

Remember, spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.

Remember, to say, “I love you” to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there any more.

Give time to love, give time to speak, and give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

AND ALWAYS REMEMBER: Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” ~George Carlin

These are indeed words worthy of reading again and again, reminding ourselves of what is most important in this precious life. Another writer who inspires me is Thomas Merton, a well-known Trappist monk who was a brilliant writer, spiritual master, and a man who embodied the quest for God and human solidarity.

He wrote one of my favorite prayers that speak to this pursuit:

Thoughts in Solitude

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.

And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. ~Thomas Merton

The ultimate abandonment of one’s role is not to have self as a fixed point of reference; it is the freedom to manifest God with selfless love through one’s uniqueness. We are all unique with a special gift, but we must discover that gift.

The great jazz composer and pianist Thelonius Monk wrote: “a genius is the one most like himself.” I think there is no more worthy goal in this life than to strive to be ourselves—our best selves, and always with attention to the pursuit of spirit. We know that we are on the right path when our actions in life are expressed as compassion, tenderness, concern for others, service, goodness, gentleness, forgiveness, and understanding.

John Wooden, the great UCLA basketball coach, and one of my favorite people, once said, “You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.” Remember the word “Illness” starts with the letter “I” and the word “Wellness” starts with the two letters “We.”

In all we do pursue after Truth, Beauty, and Love.” ~Pope Francis

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