Follow Us on Twitter Like Us on Facebook Cafh Photo Gallery Cafh Blog Join Our Google Circle

Communities

 

Cafh Communities USA Blog

Welcome to our blog! Subscribe or check back often for updates.

The mission: part 3

How many times I have seen the sun rise and set? How many times has the moon illumined a quiet and lonely night when I faced the challenge and the glory of being human? Take any human life, my life. I am born, a little lump of matter with a consciousness that is a spark of the universe and then, there begins my life: an effort to learn, to understand the “whys” and the “what fors”. And as I grow, I experiment, I make mistakes and try again and I get a few bruises on the way, and sometimes I understand and learn, and sometimes I have to repeat the same mistake over and over again (sort of like a rerun of the movie Groundhog Day) until finally I “get it” and move on .

And then, this little piece of matter (myself) arrives at the end, and it is time to gather all the laughter and tears that accompanied the journey, and take that spark of consciousness somewhere else. And, poof! My life is over. In short, this is the whole picture, bold, bittersweet and darn scary. Why? Well, because there is an end and an unknown that has to be taken with faith. And because, seeing it this way, life is so short!

Life and death take away but also give. For example, remembering that my life has a beginning and an end does not leave room for the … “who cares?”, or “I’ll do it… someday”, or…”this will never end”. I have always felt a jolt when a child or a friend younger than myself died. It has shaken the feeling that life goes on forever. Life and death are unpredictable, sometimes messy, and intimidating.   But, on the sunny side, the good news is that we human beings don’t go down without a fight. And in fighting we learn and discover better ways of dealing with these great, scary, and sometimes painful mysteries of human existence.

So, yes, life is short, and unpredictable. It is also sweet, beautiful, and who would not like it to last forever? If life will not bend to my wishes, what about trying to concentrate on the present? The ice cream cone I enjoy at this moment tastes as no other has ever tasted or will taste. The mistakes I made yesterday can only be fixed today. And only today I can set the foundation for a happy tomorrow. And this is all I have: that little space between yesterday and tomorrow, which is TODAY. Today, which lived fully, intensely, and with love, becomes ETERNITY.  

Continue reading
1429 Hits
0 Comments

Community life, resilience and inner peace

The work and mission of Cafh is to unfold consciousness in individual human beings by using the Method of Cafh. It helps a person to gradually keep uppermost in mind union with Divine Mother and love for all souls; it helps them to place individual problems in the context of human problems; it helps them to live their yearnings and bring them to the world, in other words the Method gradually makes a person consistent and able to solve human difficulties. 

This mission made sense to me in the depths of my heart and I decided to work for it in my life. I entered a Cafh community and have been there for 34 years. For me this mission was not a natural way of being but I can validate the wisdom of the method. It has helped me to pay attention more and be courageous to look inside and see the limits I put on myself to protect me and my personal way of looking at life. Gradually I have learned to be more vulnerable to life and other people and circumstances. 

It is an ongoing work and I see now that relating harmoniously is cutting edge work for human beings. The flow of life requires so much openness and flexibility to be able to “dance” with it and not end in anger, resentment or discontent.  

Community life gives me a container for daily life in a schedule, spiritual companions who have similar yearnings, a safe and loving environment in which I have developed habits of work, using time well, prayer, reflection, study, etc., that support and strengthen me in the work of fulfilling my mission. Going beyond my limits of defensiveness in this environment is possible—not easy—but possible. Daily I need to do real inner work for unfolding to happen, even in this loving environment. I have learned to make the effort without bargaining with life so much.  

This feel to me like inner freedom. Some call it renouncement to oneself. Solving problems of relationship and fulfilling the needs of everyone to live harmoniously requires this work and offering.  

Through personal guidance, living with established parameters, practicing exercises, healthy living and a stable lifelong practice with like-minded companions Community life fosters inner freedom. Miraculously an awareness of being an integral part of a greater whole awakens.  

Now I can see that Community life is a container for actually offering one’s whole life for the common good but one has to be attentive to use it for that purpose and not for a personal life, since living for myself seems to be the default setting for most of us human beings. 

This work and attention—will and consciousness—makes resilience possible. Whatever experience comes in my life, I have the tools and the strength to work with it and learn to love more and learn more about myself. I have learned to accept the good times and hard times as opportunities to live my mission. I have been able to more frequently not look back toward regret or shame but to offer myself to the present, changing my thoughts, expanding my feelings and doing actions that solve the situation instead of making it worse. 

I have my pace of learning and others have theirs. Community life respects everyone. This has brought a great peace both inwardly and outwardly to my heart. I am gradually uniting integrally with my mission in body, mind and spirit.

 

Continue reading
1275 Hits
0 Comments

Retreat Poem

There is an end to every beginning

The steep and shear tops of mountains

Become the fertile loam of the valleys

The delicate and the robust meet at their ends

 

So it is that every end, in its emptiness,

Becomes the seed of the future.

Light travels in a vacuum,

And is clouded by mass.

Absence is the only real precursor to

Presence.

 

Give me not the Certainty of

Knowledge, nor the Fervency of Faith.

Trap me not in the Snares of Security.

Shake my hand, but do it from within your sleeve ...

 

I do not want to know my Maker

But rather lie down in sleep beside him (or her)

My soul does not reach to the heavens;

It's a button-hole

And the world, life, is the button.

 

And as I fly once more over the snow-covered hills

As the night sky encompasses me, and I, warmly, it

The Earth, a nugget of iron, similar to my hemoglobin,

Protects me. I shield it with my heart.

Snow, it does not chill my bones. Stones and running water

Are streams of love and white hope-drops.

 

It's the end of the world,

Life has just begun ...

 

I pray we may all

Come to that infinitesimal point of disappearance:

Wholeness.

Continue reading
1225 Hits
0 Comments

My reason for being

Taylor, a former student at our preschool, came to visit before he headed off to college to pursue a music career playing the French horn. Reminiscing about his time at the school, I told him I remembered when his appendix burst. Then he said something about his brush with death that made me really start to think about life. “I remember it, too,” he said. “ I think of it sometimes when I am tired of practicing. I think there is a reason for me to be here. That helps me to go back to practicing.” The childhood experience of coming close to death helped him to reflect on his reason for being. He wants to make the most of his life and do the best in what he was meant to do.

All of us have a reason for being, although we may not be so dramatically reminded of it. Some of us may have discovered it and committed ourselves to it, while some of us are still looking. The lesson I learned from this aspiring musician was that the fulfillment of my life’s mission isn’t made in some grand accomplishment, such as playing with the philharmonic, but is made up of the everyday acts of life. It is how we fulfill these everyday acts that takes us to our reason for being. Instead of thinking of them as repetitive or boring, I can look beyond the specific acts and tasks that I do each day and see what is important. What could the real meaning be?

Community life helps me to do this. Routine, instead of being avoided, is seen as a way to get to the real meaning of life. It is not what we do, but how we do it. Doing the same things help me to stay centered on doing these everyday jobs like they really matter. And they do really matter. Besides the tasks fitting into a larger mosaic of human effort, the effort and attention I put into them helps me to grow spiritually. I no longer look to get something from them, but simply to give my best effort.

Community life helps me to stay focused and not look for distractions. Then I am invited to look at my real intention. When I clean a room, it’s not to be recognized as the best homemaker. It is rather to have a clean room that contributes to a better environment for the whole group. In this way, a simple task becomes a way of connecting to others. It’s not about me and my mop; it’s about everyone.

Intention is the essential piece, isn’t it? So discovering and perfecting my intention is for me like Taylor’s practicing the French horn. Simple everyday acts done with an intention of connecting with others will take me to my reason for being.

Recent Comments
Patricia Colleran
Thank you, Diana, for the uplifting thoughts. Wishing you happiness, love and new friendships in the New Year!
Saturday, 05 January 2013 2:02 PM
Linda
How reflective! A meaningful experience for all of us who are searching within.
Saturday, 05 January 2013 2:02 PM
Adam G
Thanks, Diana, for sharing!!!
Saturday, 19 July 2014 6:06 PM
Continue reading
2135 Hits
3 Comments

Divine Blessings

El Angel is the name of a waterfall in the lush rainforest of Costa Rica. It is located near the two Cafh spiritual communities in that country. I had seen pictures that showed its beauty and heard the astounding descriptions of those lucky enough to have seen it. So when I had the great privilege of visiting those communities, I looked forward to the journey into the rainforest that led to El Angel. The walk through the pristine rainforest is not only breathtaking but also powerful; I could feel the energy of nature surrounding me. The culmination of the journey was reaching the falls. I sat on a rock in the river, watching the fall of water with its irresistible beauty and purity. The minutes passed, but I didn’t notice; that moment was full of Divine presence. . . As I contemplated the waterfall, all I could think of was the divine blessings we receive, incessantly. Some we notice or understand better than others, yet the Divine keeps pouring blessings on us. Since then, I haven’t returned to El Angel, I don’t even know how the waterfall looks nowadays. But the experience remains as vivid as ever. I find that I can take that same journey within, through the forest of my inner self, till I’m able to reach my heart, the place where all blessings cascade like a waterfall . . . and be truly aware of them.

Recent Comments
Felicitas
Diane; I share your feelings. I also feel it is privilege to live in a spiritual community. I started living in community in 1968!
Saturday, 05 January 2013 2:02 PM
Lourdes D
Diane, you are right, waterfalls are breath taking experiences. I felt united with nature and all souls.
Saturday, 05 January 2013 2:02 PM
Continue reading
1635 Hits
2 Comments

Relevance

Part of our responsibility here in the Community of Tivoli is to administer and take care of the Retreat Houses.

These facilities are used by the members of Cafh that don’t live in Community as a place to host their retreats and other activities and are used throughout the summer months for this purpose.

This year some members of a group that is not affiliated with Cafh, a non-profit group called “Common Fire”, asked if they could use the space for their Board of Directors’ meeting.  Common Fire has a housing coop just down the street from us.

We have known Jeff and Kavitha, two of the directors, since they began building the coop, and on occasion have shared meals there and talked about living in “Community”.

Their original plan in using our retreat space had included  time for meet and greet between Common Fire board members and Tivoli Cafh Community members. However, since their members had come from all over the country and they had many issues to resolve in their meetings and limited time to do so, we were only able to get together for lunch on Sunday afternoon.

We all contributed different dishes to make up a buffet meal and gathered on the patio of our Community house.

It’s hard to get to know people or have a deep conversation sitting at a long table, for an hour or so, over a meal with little kids running around and in danger of falling into the pool, but it was fun and interesting and enjoyable.

At some point I sat down next to Kavitha. She remarked that she found it very inspiring that some of us had lived in Community for 40 years. This was refreshing to me because although in general, most people respect the Community members as individuals, they tend to see living in a Community as a bit “weird”. 

Recent comment in this post
Diana S
I agree with Kavitha that to see a long life of commitment is inspiring. To see someone's life unfold and become the fruit of his... Read More
Saturday, 05 January 2013 2:02 PM
Continue reading
1563 Hits
1 Comment

Reflections on meaning

I have made an effort to make a daily gratitude journal. Each night I write down one thing that I am thankful for, being careful not to repeat myself. Many days it is something mundane, like air conditioning when the outside temperature soars to the triple digits. Or looking to the past, I am thankful for my education and all those who helped me on the way. However, the very first entry was “finding meaning in my life,” and I am truly grateful to have found a reason for being.

I think that everyone shares the same destiny that gives life meaning: to develop ourselves spiritually. Everyday life provides us with all we need to grow and find life’s meaning. But how each one of us responds is unique and individual. We all have our lives to work with, but each life is different and each circumstance has many choices which yield many different consequences.

Life will go on whether I see the meaning in it or not. I need not travel far or seek exotic experiences. Community life with its schedule of work and prayer, working on relationships and finding inner resources provides the direction I need to see beyond the superficial and find the spiritual. I learn patience, self discipline and having an open mind. And all this, I do by living everyday life fully.

Coming home from food shopping this Saturday, my companion commented, “Shopping this Saturday and next and next, for years to come.” But that is how life is, a repetition of activities, and most activities are activities that all human beings participate in: those based on survival, work, and relationships. It is up to each one of us to see their meaning beyond their mundane aspects. Of course, I can be thankful for a car to be able to go to the supermarket, a supermarket full of clean, safe food, and money to pay for it. That makes me more privileged than many. I can also think of all those who made this possible, from the merchant, trucker, farmer, and all related to the food industry. I also give what I am doing all the attention it deserves so I can do it as well as possible. When everyday activities take me outside of my personal sphere, they become a spiritual practice and therefore have meaning. Living in community helps me to do this and keeps me on track.

Therefore, when I come to the end of my life I will be able to see my life not as a series of activities. I will see my life with opportunities to unfold spiritually, and this unfolding I can offer to the well being of humanity. Then I can say, “It was worth it. What I did had meaning.”

 

Recent comment in this post
Isabel
Thank you for your blog! It seems to me so important to be grateful, because we are blessed in so many ways! If we lose sight of h... Read More
Saturday, 05 January 2013 2:02 PM
Continue reading
1424 Hits
1 Comment

Making the World a Better Place

 

We are constantly receiving the news that more marriages break up than stay together, that domestic violence is rampant, that many children don’t talk to their parents, that people fight over inheritances and war over religion, that differences between countries end in tragedy, and so forth.

To me this shows that relationship is a vital area in human development right now. If we don’t learn to learn to work together to live and solve problems, we can end up destroying ourselves just by being together.

In a spiritual community, working on relationship is always present for all of us. We have different ideas, ways of working and approaching a situation. So I have a continuous opportunity to develop the ability to work in a team, to come to consensus, to respect the opinions and ideas of others, and to moderate my desire to prevail so that I can harmonize with the group.

For example, after a community meeting one of my companions approached me to tell me that I interrupted and spoke in a demanding way. My subsequent thought process went something like this: “That can’t be! I’m kind. I will give her a piece of my mind!” “Maybe she’s right. Let me review. Maybe what I said was hard for her. We can talk.” “Actually, I did interrupt. I’ll be more careful going forward.” I’ve changed a little bit. It’s uncomfortable to some extent since my personal way has been challenged but I’ve been made more aware and more open. I open to the discomfort and don’t let it govern me—I let the joy of doing what is really good for the world govern.

From this awareness I see that the combination of community life and my yearning to make the world a better place IS a good match. I find myself daily able to work on myself to unite with my companions in so many situations, to develop the possibility of harmony in humankind. This is the work of expanding my consciousness and making the world a better place.

Recent comment in this post
Felicitas
Jeanne I like the way you share your experiences. Have a happy New Year full of spiritual blessings.
Saturday, 05 January 2013 2:02 PM
Continue reading
1368 Hits
1 Comment

More on heroes and our mission in life

In my previous blog, Mission Impossible, I shared some of my ideas about one’s mission in life and what it is to be a hero.

Let me add more . . . . Sometimes along the journey of life I fall asleep and forget where I was going. Then, by the time I realize this, I can only say, “I’m stuck”. But to see this and tell myself so is my first step towards getting back on track. If I look deep, deep within myself and at my ideals, the yearning for something high and unique, takes me back home to the source of my life and the best in myself. It is like the phoenix born from the ashes, the hero resurrecting the deep longing of the heart that sometimes becomes forgotten but never dies.

To fulfill one’s highest yearnings is not easy. The hero who has to fight the unbeatable many times would like to just forget who he/she is, what he/she has to do. But there is no way to ignore my mission. It knocks at my door continuously. It haunts my sleep. It buzzes in my brain. It does not leave me alone until I give myself entirely to what I was born to do.

So when I am at a loss in life, I tell myself: “Don’t give up! Get up, look around you and get ready to battle for the best in you and all of humankind. Do something for someone else and don’t wait for rewards. Give freely, with no strings attached.” Is this simple for me to do? No. But who wants what’s easy and the emptiness that goes hand in hand with it? To reach meaning and fulfillment is not a scratch on the surface and it is a continuous challenge. My happiness is in the effort and in knowing that I am not alone. You and many others are with me on this journey. So, for the sake of all humankind, let’s not stop!

Continue reading
1286 Hits
0 Comments

Mission Impossible

When I see an actor jumping from a plane, bouncing off a building, fighting ten bad guys at once, and doing the unbelievable, I laugh and say to myself: “…only in the movies!” But then I look at it from another angle: What is someone like Tom Cruise really saying with all that jumping, falling and then… surprise... he is still alive?! His message is that of the hero: “It doesn’t matter what happens to me, the outcome of the mission is what matters, and I matter only because I am the instrument that carries it out.”

Living with a mission is living meaningfully and with a purpose. The awareness of the mission makes me go ahead even when I am tired; it makes me forget that I am sad or sick. It makes me forget myself and think of others and feel more deeply the beauty of life, of everything that is good and worthwhile.

But the mission does not need to be Mission Impossible. It might be as simple (but not always easy) as doing what I always do: my work at school with the children, smiling at others, not losing patience, cleaning, cooking, making an extra effort or consoling someone. The Mission is to do the best I can do, at every moment. But the sense of mission becomes even stronger in difficult moments. It is then that I tell myself: I must go on. I can’t bury myself in my room with my tears or give up, because there is something important I have to do: my mission. I have to get up, overcome the obstacles, and keep on going.

There is a beautiful Cafh prayer which always reminds me of the mission to be fulfilled, the difficulties to overcome, how to go on, and it always makes me feel stronger. It goes like this: “From the beginning to the end there are obstacles, the seeker knows obstacles until the end. The obstacle knows him well. Rise up seeker, life is struggle after struggle! This is known even by the greatest angels.” Then I tell myself, if even the greatest beings have to overcome difficulties, why should it be different for me?

To fulfill my Mission, I must overcome the obstacles that arise. I am Mission Impossible, the hero, the unbelievable one when, in my small place and in my life, as little and simple as it may seem, I rise above my difficulties with a strength from within that says: “I will never be conquered; I will overcome. I will keep on trying until the day I die.”

Recent comment in this post
Guest
Everyone's life should have a focus because this gives you a direction or mission to fulfill. Great article.
Tuesday, 31 July 2012 6:06 PM
Continue reading
1742 Hits
1 Comment

Annual Retreat

I have been so waiting for the annual retreat. It becomes evident, almost palpable, how worn out I become; not worn out exteriorly, but interiorly. The everyday hustle, concerns, difficulties, exterior obligations, all weigh down on me. You might wonder where my spiritual life is then, all I can answer is that I am as human as everyone else. Yes, I practice silence, prayer, meditation among the many aspects of my life that are conducive to spiritual unfolding, however, the end of the year comes and I am craving our retreat.

The time came and went. I relished every minute of it as I relish the moment I eat a piece of chocolate. As with the chocolate though, it ended and I can’t help but feel a mix of nostalgia and mourning. The effects of this special time will have to last until the end of 2012, when we begin our next annual retreat. In the meantime, a variety of experiences will come my way, some predictable, others not, and the spiritual nourishment of the retreat will be my fountain of inner resources to draw from.

We finished our annual retreat. The spiritual renewal is powerful, precious, deep. It resonates within and oozes without in subtle vibration. I wish I could keep it forever, but I know it will fade away. Every day that passes will tear it, removing layer after layer. Will it reach others? Will it serve those in need? Even in my best effort I cannot say, all I can do is let it spread: give it away. This is simply renouncement, it seems futile, nonsensical, and yet it leads to such spiritual life…

 

 


 

Recent comment in this post
Linda
Intriguing about the retreat experience. I feel I need the same.
Saturday, 05 January 2013 2:02 PM
Continue reading
1597 Hits
1 Comment

About Community Life

Upon waking, the beating of my heart elicits from deep within a prayer of thanks to the Divine for the miracle of being alive. During the meditation, being alive combines with the blessing of having a purpose in life, of knowing what I have come to do on earth.

As the day goes on, with its demands and rewards, my heart beats in unison with the rest of the Community. In a moment of silence, I reflect upon the meaning of our Community life. Community is a word used to describe a group of interacting people who live in close proximity, sharing common values.  There are many “communities” in our human societies, among which some are spiritual communities, like ours.  We interact and we share common values, yes, but this definition is not enough to describe what the Spiritual Community means to me.

The daily obligations engage my attention again until the end of work time. As I begin study time, I try another train of thought. The word "community" is derived from the Latin communitas, where cum means "with/together" and munus means "gift". The “gift of living together” is a better approximation but, again, I fall short…how could I express it more accurately?

At the end of the day, now recollected and grateful for all my blessings, I listen to the beating of my heart, and in it I find the answer. The spiritual bond that unites us is hard to describe, it seems subjective; however, it is powerful and ever present. Without this spiritual life that permeates everything we do, think and feel, our Community would not exist. Spiritual life is at the heart of the Community, it pumps life into it, nurturing it, transforming it. Spiritual life unites us beyond human bonds.

Continue reading
1316 Hits
0 Comments

Unfolding Consciousness

The other day I returned from a break to the school our Community runs and found the table was not set. The person who sets up snack forgot to set the table. I walked in and started to complain and communicate my dissatisfaction to her for not doing it. Having the table set at this time is one of my “things”. I saw that the person was a bit shocked at my words. I heard later that she was upset and I realized that she was new at the work and did not really know the whole job yet.

About a week later I walked into the classroom and the snack table was not set again. The reaction welled up in me but I stopped. “Remember what happened last time?” I thought. Even though it would be so satisfying to get upset, I decided not to and all went more smoothly.

I learned that recognition of mistakes and the consequences which cause pain in others helps me to be more conscious and make better choices in my daily life. I learned about myself, what my triggers are and the fact that I can change when I am conscious about them. My dream is to connect with others and live harmoniously. That dream has a chance to take priority over my personal enjoyment when I am conscious.

Here is a little example of how unfolding works and how my consciousness gradually expands to include the well-being of others. I find this work fascinating. It is in facing sorrow and looking at it without excuses that I can have the possibility of unfolding and living with more freedom.

 

Continue reading
1242 Hits
0 Comments