A Way of Life and Spiritual Community serving Washington DC Metro Area from Northern Virginia

Amy Conley

Brother Sun in Concert – Sunday, April 30, 2017

By on March 28, 2017 in News
Brother Sun in Concert – Sunday, April 30, 2017

In conjunction with Focus Music, Celebration Center is thrilled to host the trio, Brother Sun, on their final tour together. Over the past six years, Greg Greenway, Pat Wictor, and Joe Jencks have been making festival and venue appearances across the United States and Canada singing healing, love, and goodness into the world. As individual singer-songwriters, these three have each made their mark. But as Brother Sun, the trio’s harmonies, as much as their lyrics, tell what they are about: warm as a campfire, stirring as a gospel church, rousing as a call to arms. Fusing folk, Americana, blues, pop, jazz, rock, and a cappella singing, Brother Sun is an explosion of musical diversity and harmony, in the finest of male singing traditions.

When: Sunday, April 30, 2017, 7:00 p.m.

Where: Celebration Center for Spiritual Living, 2840 Graham Road, Falls Church, VA

Tickets: $20 at the door, $18 in advance at http://www.focusmusic.org

For more information, call (703) 380-3151

Hidden Figures – The Power of Dreams and Visions

By on March 2, 2017 in Metaphysical Reviews

Suzanne and I saw Hidden Figures recently.  It’s an excellent, well-crafted movie about the successes of three black women in the pre-integration South.  The all-star cast includes Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, and Kirsten Dunst.

Hidden Figures is based on the true stories of Katherine Goble, later Katherine G. Johnson (Henson), Mary Jackson (Monae), and Dorothy Vaughn (Spencer), who were instrumental in the early days of the space program.  When we meet them, they are driving to work at NASA Langley in the Norfolk area, in 1961.  Their car breaks down and a policeman comes by.  Eventually, they manage to get the car fixed and be on their way.

The women are working in the “colored” computing section in the East building on the Langley campus.  They aspire to bigger and better.  Dorothy is the supervisor, but does not have a supervisor’s title or pay.  Instead, that title belongs to Vivian Mitchell, a white woman (Dunst.)

We watch the three women as they move in their careers.  Katherine is assigned to an all-white, all-male computing unit where she is supposed to be checking the other employees’ calculations.  Instead, she figures out the launch angles needed to ensure John Glenn (well played by Glen Powell) gets in orbit and home again – especially when his mission has to be cut short.  In a meeting, Glenn specifically requests her to check calculations.  Mary goes to court to get permission to take engineering classes at an all-white school.  Gloria borrows a FORTRAN book (“FORTRAN is the wave of the future”)  from the “white” section of the library and reads it, then winds up working on programming the new IBM mainframe computer.

At one point, Katherine’s boss, Al (Costner), tells her that there is more to going to the Moon than simply mathematics.  You have to believe it.  Later, he asks her why she disappears a couple of times a day for 40 minutes at a time.  Katherine explains that she has to run all the way across the campus back to the East building because that’s where the “colored” bathrooms are.  Al takes down the “white” and “colored” sign and announces that “we all pee the same color.”  At the sloe of the movie, after Katherine’s calculations bring Glenn safely home, Al asks her “Katherine, do you think we can get to the Moon?”  She responds, “We’re already there, Sir.”

The real Katherine Johnson is still alive, 98 years old.  Today, there is a Katherine G. Johnson Building at NASA Langley.

There are a number of metaphysical themes in this movie.  Obviously, unity is a theme in the removal of the color distinctions for the bathrooms.  (History records that the cafeteria remained segregated for a while.)  Reaching for a dream is central to New Thought.  As Oscar Hammerstein asked, “If you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?”

All three women are doing that.  Mary’s dream is to be an engineer.  Gloria learns programming and becomes essential to the operations there, with several people working under her, including her former supervisor.  And of course, Katherine’s exchange with Al at the very end of the movie shows the power of having a vision.  “We’re already there.”

This is a well done movie that won several Golden Globe awards and is nominated for a number of Oscars, including Best Picture.  It’s inspiring and well done.  I think you’ll enjoy it.  This is definitely a movie worth seeing.

L’Amour de Loin: Love, Desire, and Chasing the Ideal

By on December 28, 2016 in Metaphysical Reviews

Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,

Or what’s a heaven for? – Robert Browning

 

The best stories are not really about their characters, but about us.

Suzanne and I saw the opera L’Amour de Loin live from the Metropolitan Opera.  It’s a relatively new opera for just three characters : Jaufré Rudel, Prince of Blaye; a Pilgrim; and the Countess of Tripoli, Clémence.    They were brilliantly sung by Eric Owens, Tamara  Mumford, and Susanna Phillips, respectively, along with the always-wonderful Metropolitan Opera Chorus.

The opera, composed in 2000 by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho with a libretto by Lebanese librettist Amin Maalouf, is based on a centuries-old legend.   It is set in Aquitaine in the 12th century.

Jaufré has been dreaming of a “faraway love” whom he has never met.  He writes poems and songs to her.  His friend The Pilgrim, a world traveler, hears his songs and poems..  The chorus tells him that no such woman exists, but The Pilgrim says that she just might.  However, she remains a dream, an ideal.  Although Jaufré can think of nothing else, he also believes he will never meet her.

The Pilgrim goes to Tripoli and tells Clémence that a prince-troubador sings of her, his “love from afar.”  At first, Clémence is offended, but then   she begins to dream of her “faraway lover.”  The Pilgrim, returning to Aquitaine, tells Jaufré that his “love from afar” knows about him.  Jaufré decides that he must meet her.

Jaufré and The Pilgrim set off on a journey across the sea to Tripoli to meet Clémence.  Jaufré is both excited and terrified of this meeting.  Although he is eager to meet Clémence, he is worried that he might be disappointed and the meeting could ruin his image of her.  This conflict and anguish makes Jaufré quite ill, and by the time he arrives in Tripoli, he is dying.

When the ship arrives, The Pilgrim tells Clémence that Jaufré has arrived, but he is near death, and that he wishes to see her.  Jaufré is carried in unconscious, but revives in Clémence’s presence.  They declare their love for each other, then Jaufré dies in Clémence’s arms.  This sends Clémence into a rage at Heaven, but she finally decides to go into a convent and prays to God, to her “faraway lover.”

This opera is about love.  It is about romantic love and Divine Love.  It is about passion that drives us to reach for the object of our desire, the thing we are passionate about, regardless of the consequences – even if we have to give our lives in the pursuit.  It is about following our star, no matter how far it takes us.  What is your star?  What is your “love from afar” that won’t let you not pursue it?  What is the thing you cannot not do?  And are you willing to let it drive you, no matter the cost?

The story of Jaufré and Clémence reminds us to listen and follow this, that no matter the cost, the pursuit is always worth it.  And sometimes, when you catch it, it really does live up to your vision of it.  There is no better time than now.

She Loves Me: Find the Good That is in Front of You

By on December 13, 2016 in Metaphysical Reviews

She loves me,

True, she doesn’t show it

How could she,

When she doesn’t know it?

– Jerry Bock, She Loves Me

 

Earlier this year, the Roundabout Theater Company mounted a wonderful revival of the 1963 musical She Loves Me, with music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick. It is one of many adaptations of the play Parfumerie by Hungarian playwright Miklós László. The play also gave rise to the 1940 movie The Shop Around the Corner (starring Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan0), the 1949 movie musical In the Good Old Summertime (starring Judy Garland and Van Johnson), and the 1997 movie You’ve Got Mail (starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.)  If you have seen any of those, you know the story.

Recently, Suzanne and I were fortunate enough to see a “captured live” performance of the Roundabout production, starring Laura Benanti, Zachary Levi, Jane Krakowski, Gavin Creel, Byron Jennings, and Tom McGowan.

The show mostly takes place at Maraczek’s Parfumerie in Budapest in 1934.  It centers around the clerks at Maraczek’s.  A woman named Amalia Balasch comes in looking for a job, but the shop’s assistant manager, Georg Nowack tells her there are no openings, but Amalia proceeds to sell a music box that Mr. Maraczek bet could not be sold.  She is hired.

As the months go by, Georg and Amalia work together, but develop a chilly animosity. Sipos, an older clerk, tells the young delivery boy that they bicker because they secretly like each other. Both are writing to unknown lovers through a Lonely Hearts Club.

Meanwhile, Ilona Ritter, a thirty-something clerk, has been having an affair with another clerk, the ladies’ man Stephen Kodaly.  But Kodaly’s relationship with Ilona turns sour.  Kodaly, it seems, has found a new lover.

On the very day that Georg tells Sipos that he will be meeting his “dear friend” that evening, Amalia tells Ilona that she will be meeting hers that night.  Mr. Maraczek gets on Georg for some minor things, and he winds up quitting the job.  (He winds up getting it back in light of some new information that is presented to Mr. Maraczek.)

You can probably guess what happens when Georg goes to meet his “Dear Friend”.  Let’s just say that both of them are quite shocked when they eventually discover each other’s identity, and it changes each character’s day-to-day interactions.

So other than a delightful musical, what does She Loves Me give us?  There is one simple point: Sometimes the good that we’re seeking is right in front of us and we can’t even see it.  It may be disguised, or we may not be looking at it correctly.  But in any case, we need to open our eyes, take a good look, and discard our preconceived notions about people and circumstances.  You never know the good that may await.

She Loves Me is a wonderful little gem of a show, and if a production comes your way, it’s definitely worth seeing.  You would likely enjoy it very much.

Experience Evensong – the 3rd Sunday of each month

By on November 16, 2016 in News
Experience Evensong – the 3rd Sunday of each month

Immerse yourself in the experience of Evensong, an hour of prayer, meditation, chanting and music to honor the setting of the sun.

When: the 3rd Sunday of each month, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Celebration Center Sanctuary

Experience Taize – Melodic Chanting – 2nd Sunday of each month

By on November 15, 2016 in News
Experience Taize – Melodic Chanting – 2nd Sunday of each month

Taizé is a prayer of peace through simple songs and musical lines sung or chanted. Participants immerse themselves in the simple yet profound harmonies allowing themselves to go more deeply into the meditative experience in the music offset by periods of silence and prayer.

When: Every 2nd Sunday at 6:30 p.m.

Where: In the Sanctuary

 

 

Soundscapes – 1st Sunday of the Month, 6:30 p.m.

By on November 13, 2016 in News
Soundscapes – 1st Sunday of the Month, 6:30 p.m.

Experience the amazing healing benefits of live music meditation, as we collectively tap into the sacred energy of sound and transformative conscious intention setting. Using a powerful synthesis of ancient and modern sound healing instruments, techniques, and modalities, Woven Green creates a vibratory state designed to restore resonance in mind, body, and spirit.  Woven Green Soundscapes help guide listeners into theta brain wave states, which are proven to help reduce stress, awaken intuition, enhance creativity and promote an overall expanded state of consciousness and well-being.

Jim & Ashley Cash are a married couple that have devoted their lives to writing and performing the music of Woven Green. Jim is a prolific songwriter and a strikingly versatile guitarist and multi-instrumentalist, his wife a powerful and captivating singer, guitarist, and percussionist. Together, the two create a magical alchemy that is truly uplifting and inspiring. Their music ranges from contemporary folk-rock singer-songwriter to ambient soundscape journeys using a combination of their own field recorded nature sounds, Native American flutes, percussion, and various stringed instruments.

Join us on the first Sunday of each month for this transformational experience. Bring a yoga mat, pillow and blanket if desired. Love offerings joyously welcomed.

Soundscapes 1st Sunday

Interspiritual Connections – 4th Sundays at 6:30 pm

By on October 20, 2016 in News
Interspiritual Connections – 4th Sundays at 6:30 pm

Join us in an infinitely meaningful time that draws from many traditions and faiths.

Interspiritual Contemplative Circle offers an opportunity to share, draw from, honor, and abide in faiths and traditions, while we see each other as an instrument, a mirror, a channel, in Agape love, with receptive hearts and minds.

January will include the African Libation Ceremony. As the new begins, we use Water to pour our Sacred Prayers into the Universe, Blessing all fellow beings.

The Sanctuary opens early (6:10) for those who would like a time of silent meditation. Our time together includes melodic chanting, brief silent meditation, and reflective writing. You are invited to take part, reflect, contemplate, listen to one another, and to share as you choose.

Love offerings welcome.

rev-channasorah

The Facilitator: Interfaith-oriented since birth, Rev. Channahsorah is an ordained Interfaith Minister, chaplain, and a graduate of the Shalem Institute’s Transforming Community: Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups and Retreats. Her callings are in bridge-building and fostering mutual understanding among people from various cultures, faiths, and traditions.

Celebration Center for Spiritual Living is a multi-cultural spiritual community with shared commitments to love, service, and authenticity—all working towards a world that works for everyone.

Florence Foster Jenkins – The Power of a Dream

By on September 23, 2016 in Metaphysical Reviews

There is an old joke: “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” “Practice, man, practice.” Apparently, not if you’re Florence Foster Jenkins.

Oscar Hammerstein wrote,
You’ve got to have a dream.
If you don’t have a dream,
How you gonna have a dream come true?

Florence Foster Jenkins, based on a true story, is the story of a woman with a dream, one that would seem ridiculous to most other people. She dreams of being a singer, even though she has a terrible voice.  What she does have is determination.

Jenkins (played by Meryl Streep) was a piano prodigy from Pennsylvania who married, contracted syphilis, inherited the family fortune, and became a patron of the arts. She was a major patron of the classical music scene in New York for many years. But she wanted to be a performer, and she simply did not have a good sense of either pitch or rhythm. (Her insistence on adding operatic coloratura to her performance only adds to the effect.)

Nonetheless, her second husband, St. Clair Bayfield, a failed actor, would try to book concerts for her. She performed an annual recital at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, in the Grand Ballroom. In the movie, she is also seen performing occasionally at the Verdi Club, an arts club she helped found. But her dream is to perform at Carnegie Hall.

The movie takes place in 1944. With America at war, Florence is still in pursuit of that Carnegie Hall concert. Eventually, she and St. Clair book the place, partially by giving a thousand tickets away to members of the armed forces. Unfortunately, unlike her engagements at the Verdi Club or the Ritz-Carlton, tickets to her Carnegie Hall performance are available to the public. One ticket buyer is the New York Post critic Earl Wilson, who gives a devastating review in his column, “It Happened Last Night”. But Florence has had her performance at Carnegie Hall.

Although it’s played somewhat as comedy, Florence Foster Jenkins is the story of getting where you want to go by guts and a dream, even when nobody else believes in your dream and everyone says it can’t be done (and perhaps shouldn’t).

What dream are you deferring because people said you can’t do it or perhaps shouldn’t do it? What have you stepped back from trying because you “don’t have it”? Remember Florence and her concert at Carnegie Hall. If Florence Foster Jenkins can sing at Carnegie Hall, then what can you do that you’ve been dreaming about doing?

I think you’ll enjoy this movie, and watch for the power of determination and a dream.

Star Trek: Beyond – What Anger Will Do

By on August 20, 2016 in Metaphysical Reviews

The other day, Suzanne and I went to see Star Trek: Beyond. As long-time Trekkers (Suzanne especially), we were eager to see the latest in the Star Trek reboot series.

The movie has many typical Trek elements. As usual, the Enterprise gets in a major scrape. On a mission, the Enterprise gets drawn into uncharted territory. They pick up a distress signal. As it approaches the planet, the Enterprise is attacked by a large cluster of hostile ships. They are under the command of an alien named Krall, who has a deep-seated hatred of the Federation. Krall is after a bio-weapon called the Abronath. But Krall finds it has already been taken.

Krall captures Uhura and Sulu, along with the rest of the crew. After Krall threatens to kill Sulu, a crew member, Ensign Syl, gives up the weapon. Krall takes Uhura and Syl into a chamber where he unleashes the Abronath, causing Syl to disintegrate.

Scotty encounters an inhabitant of the planet named Jaylah, who inhabits an early-generation crashed Federation ship called the USS Franklin. Jaylah traps Kirk and Chekhov, but releases them when Scotty says they’re part of his crew. Scotty, meanwhile, fixes the transporter on the Franklin, enabling him to transport Spock and McCoy there.

Unfortunately, Uhura and most of the crew are at Krall’s headquarters, and Scotty says he can’t transport them from there. So they head to Krall’s headquarters. Kirk creates a diversion while the rest fight Krall’s men. Krall and his men head towards Yorktown, where he can activate the Abronath. The crew heads to Yorktown also, and a battle ensues.

Eventually, they find information leading to Krall’s true identity from decades ago. I won’t reveal it to avoid spoiling the plot, but suffice it to say that Krall has what he considers very good reasons to carry a long-standing anger at the Federation (you may agree), and he was not always the monster that he is when the Enterprise finds him.

It is that anger that turned him into the vicious monster. He has been stewing in this anger (perhaps legitimate) for decades and it has warped him. Kirk, of course, tries to save him from what he has become, but to no avail.

Needless to say, Kirk and the Enterprise crew save the day, but again, I don’t want to spoil the plot. Suffice it to say that Krall meets a very unhappy fate. The crew then helps Jaylah get into Star Fleet Academy.

What is the lesson of this movie, aside from never mess with James T. Kirk and the Enterprise? It’s a very stark reminder of the power of anger, of how it can warp us if we let ourselves stew in it rather than letting it go. Krall is transformed by his anger at the Federation into the monster we see for most of the movie. Had he just let go of his righteous indignation, he might have been able to make a better life on the planet, perhaps lifted himself and the inhabitants. Instead, he became the vicious Krall, who is a danger to everyone.

Being angry is occasionally justified and always destructive. But it’s best to let it pass through, or become a stimulus to constructive action. When you hold onto it, it is extremely harmful. Letting go can empower your life; holding on can bring out the worst you have. As Raymond Charles Barker tells us in a chapter title from The Science of Successful Living, “Resentment Is Ruin”. Let it go, and you can “live long and prosper.”

This is definitely a movie you will enjoy and it will teach, as well. It’s one to see.

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