Sorrow and sadness are part of our human existence, both personally and on a global level. In reflecting on grief, I am aware that there is simultaneously a feeling of deep love, if we open ourselves completely to the emotion. Tears have a purifying, rejuvenating, and Light-bearing power, as well as a great capacity to heal. Consider the miracle of the raising of Lazarus. It took a unification of the deepest human expression; first, the tears of Mary and the others gathered there, and then the tears of Jesus, combined with the most all-embracing, highest divinity (Divine Breath, known in Hebrew as ruach). Lazarus was not just lifted from the grave; he was healed as well. (John XI 33-38)Continue reading “Tears of Joy”
“We need to make the kind of society where it is easier for people to be good.”
Peter Maurin (1877–1949)
Many of us are looking forward to once again gathering with friends and family at Thanksgiving. Along with enjoying our favorite delicious holiday foods and other traditions, let’s remember that the heart of Thanksgiving is gratitude. In the midst of the crucible of change that the world is experiencing, we need to focus our attention and efforts on loving each other more, and doing what we can to make the world a better place for everyone.
I offer this simple Thanksgiving prayer of reflection: “May I trust my own goodness. May I see the goodness in others. May we always remain hopeful and live in the present with gratitude and love in our hearts.”
“Hope says God has not abandoned us in the world … He pursues us, dwells in us, intervenes for us and will not forget us.” Scott McClellian
Apples: A Traditional Harvest Food
Celebrating the bounty of the harvest is one of the joys of Thanksgiving. Apples are among
my favorite fall foods, and the humble fruit has a wide array of health benefits. There’s a lot of truth in the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
Apples are a good source of nutrients, including minerals, dietary fiber, antioxidants, and ursolic acid. Preclinical studies have found apple pomace and its isolated extracts improve lipid metabolism, antioxidant status, and gastrointestinal function and demonstrate a positive effect on metabolic disorders (eg, hyperglycemia, insulin resistance, etc.).
Epidemiological studies show that frequent apple consumption is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, and that apples are an ideal food for cholesterol management.,, Consumption of apples and the individual flavonoid compounds, quercetin and epicatechin are associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality.
Apples contain over one hundred phenolic compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.These phenolic acids and flavonoids comprise six major classes: phenolcarboxylic acids (e.g., chlorogenic acid), anthocyanins (e.g., cyanidin glycosides), flavonols (e.g., quercetin glycosides), dihydrochalcones (e.g., phloridzin), flavan-3-ols (e.g., catechin), and procyanidins (e.g., procyanidin B2).
Synergy is the Key
The key to the health benefits of apples is the combination of active compounds, known as the synergistic effect. A major proportion of the bioactive components in apples, including high molecular weight polyphenols, are converted by the colonic microbiota to bioavailable and biologically active compounds with systemic health benefits, in addition to modulating microbial composition.
In studies, fresh Red Delicious apple extract inhibited cell proliferation in a dose-dependent manner in colon cancer. Apple extract also inhibited human liver tumor cells. Researchers found that tumor proliferation was inhibited 57% by extract containing apple skin and 40% by extract not containing skin.
Apples inhibit tyrosinase and possess anti-melanoma effects in B16 mouse melanoma cells, as well.
For those trying to lose excess weight, I highly recommend eating an apple before a meal. Apples are low in calories, highly nutritious, and help you to feel satisfied and less hungry. There are other health benefits to eating an apple daily, as well. A recent study found that whole Gala apple consumption is an effective dietary strategy to mitigate high fat meal-induced postprandial inflammation that exacerbates cardiovascular disease risk in overweight and obesity. And another recent study showed the replacement of calories in the Western diet with apple pomace attenuated non-alcoholic fatty liver disease risk.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving!
“I am not this hair, I am not this skin, I am the soul that lives within.” ~ Rumi
Do you know how New York City got the nickname “The Big Apple”?
Although New York State is America’s top apple grower, after the state of Washington, the New York City nickname has nothing to do with fruit production. The Big Apple moniker first gained popularity in connection with horseracing. Around 1920, New York City newspaper reporter John Fitz Gerald, whose beat was the track, heard African-American stable hands in New Orleans say they were going to “the big apple,” a reference to New York City, whose race tracks were considered big-time venues. Fitz Gerald soon began making mention of the Big Apple in his newspaper columns. In the 1930s, jazz musicians adopted the term to indicate New York City was home to big-league jazz clubs.
Since Thanksgiving is “as American as apple pie” I thought I might throw you a curve ball and present an Upside Down Apple Cake recipe as an alternative. https://www.donnieyance.com/upside-down-apple-cake/
 McClellian, Scott, June 6, 2013, http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/how-we-misunderstand-hope
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 Nix, Elizabeth, Why is New York City named the Big Apple? July 23, 2014, https://www.history.com › news › why-is-new-york-city-nicknamed-the-big-apple
In my blog post last week, I explored the connection between Vital Spirit and health. In my professional work as an herbalist and in my personal life, I believe that a strong and resilient Vital Spirit is the foundation for a healthy and happy life. But how do we strengthen the intangible quality of Vital Spirit? The answer lies in practices that encourage peace, expansiveness, and self-reflection—prayer, meditation, spiritual reading, time in nature, and even creative pursuits where the superficial falls away, and we find our deeper selves. Through these practices, we can be certain that we are living in accordance with our deepest truth.
I often hear people proclaim, “God is everywhere.” Those who argue against the existence of God maintain this cannot be proven, and indeed, they are correct if they view life from a purely logical, intellectual perspective. In fact, from this perspective, it would be just as easy to prove that “God is nowhere.” I personally don’t feel the need to either prove or disprove the existence of God. For me, it is the intuitive internal heart within that senses God—in the form of Pure Love—which is all around us as well as within us.
There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t ask myself these two questions: “Where am I, and who am I?” These may seem simplistic, when considered as superficial queries. But my inquiry is rooted within the context of relationships: My relationship to my inner being and outer self, to others, to nature, to the universe, and to God, whose existence is found in all of these.
When we understand the interconnectedness of all of our relationships, we have the opportunity to experience a harmonious balance of spirit, heart, mind, and body. All too often, we ignore spirit and heart and focus instead on the physical aspects of life, and the mind only as it relates to the goals of the material world.
Christmas is preeminently a feast of joy. There’s a gladness that infuses the Christmas season, expressed in the exchange of gifts and warm greetings, the familiar refrains of Christmas music, the decorated tree and lights, and the radiant faces of children with sparkling eyes as they eagerly await Christmas day. During this season, we share a glimpse of humanity’s deep longing for celebration, joy, love, peace, sharing, and unity. These are the true gifts of Christmas.