Tag Archives: Christmas

Christmas Day…a few photos and a few words.

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
― Dr. Seuss

So a couple things. Firstly, yes I know that these pics are a week late. I’ve been busy. Between two jobs I’m on a two week stretch without a day off. What a way to start the new year, right? But on the other hand, working this hard during the holidays is a good test for me…a sort of personal challenge to keep my spirits up (or maybe it’s just a diversion). Anyhow, all of these were taken on Christmas. The photo above (sorry, that one was actually shot on Christmas Eve Day) was taken as I unlocked my bike at a coffee shop. The car was parked right up to my bike and as I looked up the cross shone in the sunlight…perfect and appropriate, I thought. So I took it’s photo. The next four photos below were taken on the way to my sister’s house for a family gathering on Christmas. I was actually in a car (yes, it’s true…car share) and I took a detour to Buffalo’s outer harbor for a bit of peace along the way. I love it there any time of year. And the last photo below–the moon, of course–is the first Christmas full moon since 1977. It took it’s photo, with a glass of wine in hand, from my front yard when I arrived home in the evening.

I went to church today, but Jesus was outside.

 “In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”~Anne Frank

So first a couple things. The above image is of of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral here in Buffalo. It’s a beautiful and welcoming space. And below is the life-sized Homeless Jesus statue that lies outside the church facing Main Street. The statue was sculpted by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz; he also has a Begging Jesus statue outside the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, in NYC. I would walk past it on 31st Street (I think) as I walked to my hotel when I was studying there a couple years ago. What I found interesting about the Begging Jesus statue is that people would leave money in his outstretched hand and no one (that I saw) would take it. The Homeless Jesus statue pictured below is rather controversial (click the above link or google it), and I am really proud that it ended up in my hometown and at St. Paul’s. I have to add that I have no affiliation with St. Paul’s other than they are nice enough to leave there doors open throughout the day and maybe once a month or so I stop by in the midst of a busy day for some quiet time in their beautiful sanctuary. And I’d be remiss if I also didn’t comment on the fact that it is a rarity that a church’s doors are left open other than during formal service/worship time. Thank you St. Paul’s; you have, on certain occasions (such as today) been an oasis for me.

The Homeless Jesus statue arrived in Buffalo last spring, March I think, and that’s around the time the above and below photos were taken. To see it in person really is moving; it’s life-size and at first glance one may think it is a person lying there. But then you notice the scar on his feet. Right from the very beginning people began leaving things for the homeless…articles of clothing, sundries, food. Some people came to pray.

While the above set of photos were taken last spring, the below set were taken today. And now I have to tell you a bit about my day, without getting too personal. But before I do I have to add that I’ve heard recently that more and more people have been leaving things at the staue for the homeless that the church has built a small structure behind it (pictured below) onto which things can be hung. I went there to see that today, but I’m jumping ahead.

Last night I had insomnia. I’ve been prone to it most of my adult life, but last night was bad. Birds were chirping when I finally nodded off. My alarm was set for 5:30am; I ended up calling in “sick” to work today because of lack of sleep. I fell back to sleep and awoke around 11am. Feeling in a grog I went out for coffee. While sitting there, and feeling somewhat bad for abandoning my co-workers on what I know was a very busy day, I thought of St. Paul’s and wondered if it was open as usual (thankfully it was). I simply wanted a place to sit in silence; a holy place.   

It was/is an incredibly beautiful day today. And as I approached the church I came upon the scene below. There were two or three women placing things on the statue and offering them to people as well. As I got off my bike I could hear the one woman say, “Take what you need; that’s why we are leaving it here.” Tears welled up in my eyes. I snapped a few photos. And before leaving (to go around to the front of the church at the sanctuary entrance), I approached the women who where now talking to someone else. I gave them my card and asked if I could post pictures on my blog later. I also asked if they were affiliated with any group or organization. The one women didn’t here me and asked what I had just asked, so I repeated the question. Then she smiled, “No, it’s just us.”

When I went into the sanctuary I was the only one there. It was just what I needed; I sat there for probably a half hour in the chilly stillness. Though I am a Christian it is rare for me to write strictly from a Christian perspective as I feel that the omnipresent consciousness that we call God transcends all religions and is equal to all (and equal to all in non-religions, if that makes any sense). 


And as I sat there in the quietness of this beautiful sanctuary in the heart of a city at lunchtime, I couldn’t help but stare at the altar and the windows behind the altar. Because just beyond those windows–in the rear of the church and facing downtown–was where the statue of the Homeless Jesus lay. Yes, of course I realize that it is only a statue in the same way a church is only a building. But I also believe that material things can be manifestations of the Spirit. If, for example, that statue were not there people would not be bringing things for the homeless; people would not be standing on a city corner and praying. And yes I also realize that people would be caring for the homeless elsewhere, but because of that statue they were caring for them right there; right now, on this beautiful day just a few weeks before the day we celebrate the birth of the light that shines in the darkness. 


As a Christian I would not be telling the truth if I didn’t add that I really am not sure what to think about Jesus. Was he truly the Son of Man? The only begotten son of God? I have a difficulty believing that (literalists, please do not send me hate mail). More so, I believe he was one of a handful of enlightened masters (messengers or teachers) that came to help us learn and grow…how to be fully human. And on this day people were following his example, they were outside doing his work. I think we all can learn from the actions of others. And on this day I learned what it meant to offer selfless service–selfless love–to strangers on the street.


I was sitting in a comfortable pew, but Jesus–or at least the spirit from whence he and we all came–was out on the street, working through common souls like you and I. Even in the midst of the confusing world in which we live today, there is still good. So much good. I just have to look for it sometimes.

And this is what I thought as I sat alone in a pew in a really large and ornate but chilly and incredibly silent sanctuary today.

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.”

~Matthew 25:35

Urban Simplicity

I went to church today, but Jesus was outside.

 “In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”~Anne Frank

So first a couple things. The above image is of of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral here in Buffalo. It’s a beautiful and welcoming space. And below is the life-sized Homeless Jesus statue that lies outside the church facing Main Street. The statue was sculpted by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz; he also has a Begging Jesus statue outside the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, in NYC. I would walk past it on 31st Street (I think) as I walked to my hotel when I was studying there a couple years ago. What I found interesting about the Begging Jesus statue is that people would leave money in his outstretched hand and no one (that I saw) would take it. The Homeless Jesus statue pictured below is rather controversial (click the above link or google it), and I am really proud that it ended up in my hometown and at St. Paul’s. I have to add that I have no affiliation with St. Paul’s other than they are nice enough to leave their doors open throughout the day, and maybe once a month or so I stop by in the midst of a busy day for some quiet time in their beautiful sanctuary. And I’d be remiss if I also didn’t comment on the fact that it is a rarity that a church’s doors are left open other than during formal service/worship time. Thank you St. Paul’s; you have, on certain occasions (such as today) been an oasis for me.

The Homeless Jesus statue arrived in Buffalo last spring, during the month of March I think, and that’s around the time the photos above and those directly below were taken. To see the statue in person really is moving; it’s life-size and at first glance one may think it is a person lying there. But then you notice the scars on his feet. Right from the very beginning people began leaving things for the homeless…articles of clothing, sundries, food. Some people came to pray.

While the above set of photos were taken last spring, the below set were taken today. And now I have to tell you a bit about my day, without getting too personal. But before I do I have to add that I’ve heard recently that more and more people have been leaving things at the statue for the homeless, and that the church has built a small structure behind it (pictured below) onto which things can be hung. I went there to see that today, but I’m jumping ahead.

Last night I had insomnia. I’ve been prone to it most of my adult life, but last night was bad. Birds were chirping when I finally nodded off. My alarm was set for 5:30am; I ended up calling in “sick” to work today because of lack of sleep. I fell back to sleep and awoke around 11am. Feeling in a grog I went out for coffee. While sitting there, and feeling somewhat bad for abandoning my co-workers on what I know was a very busy day, I thought of St. Paul’s and wondered if it was open as usual (thankfully it was). I simply wanted a place to sit in silence; a holy place.   

It was/is an incredibly beautiful day today. And as I approached the church I came upon the scene below. There were two or three women placing things on the statue and offering them to people as well. As I got off my bike I could hear one woman say, “Take what you need; that’s why we are leaving it here.” Tears welled up in my eyes. I snapped a few photos. And before leaving (to go around to the front of the church at the sanctuary entrance), I approached the women who where now talking to someone else. I gave them my card and asked if I could post pictures on my blog later. I also asked if they were affiliated with any group or organization. The one woman didn’t hear me and asked what I had just asked, so I repeated the question. Then she smiled, “No, it’s just us.”

When I went into the sanctuary I was the only one there. It was just what I needed; I sat there for probably a half hour in the chilly stillness. Though I am a Christian it is rare for me to write strictly from a Christian perspective as I feel that the omnipresent consciousness that we call God transcends all religions and is equal to all (and equal to all in non-religions, if that makes any sense). 

And as I sat there in the quietness of this beautiful sanctuary in the heart of a city at lunchtime, I couldn’t help but stare at the altar and the windows behind the altar. Because just beyond those windows–in the rear of the church and facing downtown–was where the statue of the Homeless Jesus lay. Yes, of course I realize that it is only a statue in the same way a church is only a building. But I also believe that material things can be manifestations of the Spirit. If, for example, that statue were not there people would not be bringing things for the homeless; people would not be standing on a city corner and praying. And yes I also realize that people would be caring for the homeless elsewhere, but because of that statue they were caring for them right there, right now, on this beautiful day just a few weeks before the day we celebrate the birth of the light that shines in the darkness. 

As a Christian I would not be telling the truth if I didn’t add that I really am not sure what to think about Jesus. Was he truly the Son of Man? The only begotten son of God? I have a difficulty believing that (literalists, please do not send me hate mail). More so, I believe he was one of a handful of enlightened masters (messengers or teachers) that came to help us learn and grow…how to be fully human. And on this day people were following his example, they were outside doing his work. I think we all can learn from the actions of others. And on this day I learned what it meant to offer selfless service–selfless love–to strangers on the street.

I was sitting in a comfortable pew, but Jesus–or at least the spirit from whence he and we all came–was out on the street, working through common souls like you and I. Even in the midst of the confusing world in which we live today, there is still good. So much good. I just have to look for it sometimes.

And this is what I thought as I sat alone in a pew in a really large and ornate but chilly and incredibly silent sanctuary today.

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.”
~Matthew 25:35

Urban Simplicity

A Christmas Message from Paramahansa Yogananda (for the first Sunday of Advent)

Paramahansa Yogananda at Niagara Falls 

A Christmas Vow 
“I will prepare for the coming of the Omnipresent baby Christ by cleaning the cradle of my consciousness and sense attachments; and by polishing it with deep, daily, divine meditation, introspection, and discrimination. I will remodel the cradle with the dazzling soul-qualities of brotherly love, humbleness, faith, desire for God, will power, self-control, renunciation and unselfishness, that I may fittingly celebrate the birth of the Divine Child.

(MetaphysicalMeditations) by Paramahansa Yogananda

Urban Simplicity.

100 years ago today…

100 years ago today…there was peace, at least in one part of the world and during a savage war, even if for just one day. On Christmas day 1914 during the first world war, British and German soldiers put down their weapons and went out to greet each other. They sang songs, hymns, drank together, and even played football (soccer) together. This became known as the Christmas Truce of 1914. Too bad the truce would not continue until this day and each day moving forward. Both images in this post were found here.


Urban Simplicity.

100 years ago today…

100 years ago today…there was peace, at least in one part of the world and during a savage war, even if for just one day. On Christmas day 1914 during the first world war, British and German soldiers put down their weapons and went out to greet each other. They sang songs, hymns, drank together, and even played football (soccer) together. This became known as the Christmas Truce of 1914. Too bad the truce would not continue until this day and each day moving forward. Both images in this post were found here.


Urban Simplicity.

Paramahansa Yogananda’s Christmas Vow…

A Christmas Vow

I will prepare for the coming of the Omnipresent baby Christ by cleaning the cradle of my consciousness, now rusty with selfishness, indifference, and sense attachments; and by polishing it with deep, daily, divine meditation, introspection and discrimination. I will re model the cradle with the dazzling soul qualities of brotherly love, humbleness, faith, desire for God-realization, will power, self-control, renunciation, and unselfishness, that I may fittingly celebrate the birth of the Divine Child.”  —Paramahansa Yogananda

Urban Simplicity. 

Advent…and a few words from Paramahansa Yogananda

This image of Paramahansa Yogananda at Niagara Falls was found here.

Meditation for Christmas

Celebrate the birth of Christ in the cradle of your consciousness during the Christmas season. Let His vast perception in Nature, in space, and in universal love be felt within your heart.

Break the limitations of caste, color, race, religious prejudice,and inharmony, that the cradle of your heart be big enough to hold within you the Christ-love for all creation.

On every Christmas morn of your inner perception, prepare precious packages of divine qualities and deliver them to the beloved souls who gather around the Christmas tree of inner awakening, to commemorate His birth in understanding, truth, and bliss.

Celebrating the birth of omniscient, omnipresent Christ Consciousness on the joyous Christmas festivity of your inner awakening, you will find the unbroken happiness of your dreams.

Let the omniscient Christ Consciousness come to earth a second time and be born in you, even as it was manifested in the mind of Jesus.

(Metaphysical Meditations) by Paramahansa Yogananda

Buffalo Creek on Christmas Day


Yesterday and the day prior I drove a car (yup, it’s true…Buffalo Car Share). Two of my sisters live about 25 miles from me and this is the best way to get to them on a cold Christmas day. Anyhow, I used the opportunity to snap a few photos along the way. All of the photos are of Buffalo Creek. The two immediately below were taken from the bridge pictured above which crosses the creek on Blossom Road in Elma. When I was a kid (teenager) friends and I would swim in this creek in the summertime and have wild parties there at night (the stories I could tell). And the bottom two photos were taken on the bank of the creek at Charles Burchfield Park in West Seneca.

Urban Simplicity

Christmas…

I’ve posted this Christmas prayer/mediation by Paramahansa Yogananda for the past few Christmases. I find it so beautiful that I thought I would post it again. But the difficult part, the nearly impossible part (at least for me), is living up to it…but it’s good, I think, to have something to aspire to. Merry Christmas. Peace. 
 
A Christmas Vow

I will prepare for the coming of the Omnipresent baby Christ by cleaning the cradle of my consciousness, now rusty with selfishness, indifference, and sense attachments; and by polishing it with deep, daily, divine meditation, introspection and discrimination. I will re model the cradle with the dazzling soul qualities of brotherly love, humbleness, faith, desire for God-realization, will power, self-control, renunciation, and unselfishness, that I may fittingly celebrate the birth of the Divine Child.”
–Paramahansa Yogananda

Urban Simplicity.

Merry Christmas!

Photo Credit: Filipe Dana

I came across these two photos yesterday and they inspired me to post them for Christmas. The above photo is of the Christ Statue, in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, in front of a full moon. And the below image is of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama praying in front of an image of Jesus the Christ (this I find particularly moving).
Whether or not today was the actual birthday of Yeshua ben Yosef (Jesus’ original birth-name: Jesus, son of Joseph), this is the day it is celebrated. Today, of course, is a day of refection and personal re-birth for Christians around the globe. But I have to admit that with recent events as I look inward I am having difficulty finding peace. But still I try, and still I hope. I’ve posted the below prayer for the past four Christmases, but I find it inspiring enough to re-post it again. Personally I know that I can use to re-read and reflect upon it. It is a Christmas vow written by Paramahansa Yoganada and it can be found in his tiny book, Metaphysical Meditations. Merry Christmas, brothers and sisters, wherever you may find yourself at this time. Peace.

A Christmas Vow

I will prepare for the coming of the Omnipresent baby Christ by cleaning the cradle of my consciousness, now rusty with selfishness, indifference, and sense attachments; and by polishing it with deep, daily, divine meditation, introspection and discrimination. I will re model the cradle with the dazzling soul qualities of brotherly love, humbleness, faith, desire for God-realization, will power, self-control, renunciation, and unselfishness, that I may fittingly celebrate the birth of the Divine Child.”
–Paramahansa Yogananda

Photo found here.

O Tannenbaum (a view from my handlebars)

I saw these while riding on Delaware Avenue this evening, on a stretch that was once–about 100 years ago– called Millionaire’s Row  (now, the once stately mansions are all businesses). And it’s interesting in that while I don’t ride a bike on the sidewalk very often (pavements, to my EU friends) I do on this stretch…there is virtually no shoulder to the road and cars are flying by way passed the speed limit. Anyhow, as I was riding by–and cars zipped passed me–these trees looked beautiful to me on this crisp and windless evening. So I stopped and snapped a few photos…and here are a couple of them.


Urban Simplicity

Five Quotes from Jesus of Nazareth

This is another in the Five Quotes series on this blog, but I first have two preface the quotes with a couple comments. Firstly, I just wanted to say that I found the above photo at St. Francis Place. I chose the photo because I do believe that Jesus meditated (there are plenty of resources for this but the post at St. Francis Place is a  good one). I also believe that Jesus studied in India with the spiritual masters of his time; many refer to this as the Lost Years, or more specifically, the years which the Bible is silent on the life of Jesus. It is also likely that December 25 is not the actual birth date of Jesus, but as Christians this is the day we celebrate it. At any rate, whether you are a Christian or not, you have to admit that if more of us (myself included) followed the teachings of Jesus–lived them–the world would likely be a better place. Anyhow, these–in no particular order–are just a few of His words that inspire me.

Merry Christmas!

Love your neighbor as yourself.
Mark 12:31 

 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
Matthew 7:7

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 
Matthew 6:25

The Kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, but men do not see it.
The Gospel of Thomas 113

 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
 Mathew 5:9

To read more in the Five Quotes series, click here.

Urban Simplicity.