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I have been contemplating something I heard on Free Speech TV, “love has no labels.”
I am reminded of a story about an archeologist who interviewed an indigenous Shaman from the Four Corners area. He said, “I have noticed your people chant a lot about water issues. Is it because you have a lack of water in your local environment?”

“True, true,” the Shaman answered. “And I have noticed your people are always singing about love. Is it because you don’t have enough of it?”

I don’t know what the archeologist’s response was, but my answer would have been, true, true. The culture in which I’ve been raised seems to promote (perhaps for commercial reasons) something very different from “love has no labels.”

We are used to hearing, for example, I love this product, or I love that person; I love this religion, or that point of view. There’s nothing wrong with such statements; however, experiencing the pure energy of love without connecting it to a specific object, is a very different thing and does not seem to be valued enough in our modern culture.

Love can be compartmentalized in such a way that, especially during hard times, does not give much comfort. It constrains the broadest, expanding and uplifting power of love to a narrow path which can lead to intolerance where anything we do not love is easily discounted. At the same time, I am also acutely aware that some behaviors, traits, ignorant and unhealthy patterns etc., do need to be set aside so we can focus on what helps us be the best we can be.

 

From Ashes Into Light by Gudrun Mouw

Just for Memorial Day Weekend, Gudrun Mouw’s award-winning novel From Ashes Into Light is on sale for $.99 .  This visionary novel is a moving, gut-wrenching read that will transport you. It’s also a hopeful, fantastical tale about overcoming fascism. This one is the top of the genre, winning three awards in Visionary and New Age fiction and was named finalist in two more awards, including the prestigious 2017 Next Generation Indies Book Award for Best First Book. Don’t let this opportunity pass!

From Ashes Into Light ebook deal is available on: Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble (Nook)and iTunes (search on iTunes for Gudrun Mouw).

 

The Spiritual Journey Uncategorized

beverlyhillsbookawardsFrom Ashes Into Light, Gudrun Mouw’s debut novel, just won two awards in the same week! In the 2016 Best Book Awards From Ashes Into Light placed as a finalist in two categories: Fiction: New Age and Fiction: Visionary. In the 5th Annual Beverly Hills Book Awards Ashes won in the same two categories. In fact if you take the win in each category as a separate award, From Ashes Into Light has won four awards, placed as a finalist in two awards, and received the silver award in another. Phew, seven awards altogether! The author asked me to guest write this post because she was just speechless with the acknowledgment.

best_book_award_badge_whiteHowever, winning awards doesn’t always translate into becoming popular. It’s challenging being an author in a genre that is possibly not well understood. Visionary Fiction and New Age Fiction actually have a wide range of titles that qualify in each genre. So you can get a zombie fantasy as well as literary fiction in both categories.

For From Ashes Into Light, I’ll try to keep it as simple as possible. From Ashes Into Light is literary fiction with spiritual, new age (ie. the character believes in reincarnation) and visionary (consciousness-oriented) elements. It’s not exactly mainstream. But anyone interested in Buddhist teachings or spirituality in general should appreciate this well-crafted book.

In fact, the more people find out about these genres the better. Because picture this, you love books about the Dali Lama or this or that Rinpoche, and you love certain self-help books, but you’ve never tried reading fiction that’s spiritual. Now there are many, many options to combine entertainment and spiritual endeavors. Besides From Ashes Into Light by Gudrun Mouw, I have read a handful of spiritual fiction that I would recommend.

Spiritual Fiction

From Ashes Into Light by Gudrun Mouw

Mystic Tea by Rea Nolan Martin

The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk

Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

The Moon Under Her Feet by Clysta Kinstler

Each of these titles explores spirituality in a alternative, entertaining way. And as I immersed myself in these titles, I found myself open to new possibilities in myself, and sometimes feeling a closer connection to the Divine. Give them a try!

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Gudrun Mouw should be back to posting her blog sometime in the next two weeks. Stay Tuned. To purchase From Ashes Into Light, go to an online seller, your bookstore to order, or you can call the distributor directly (800-888-4741) to order a copy in paperback or hardcover.

Erika Lunder, publisher

Raincloud Press

 

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FromAshesIntoLightBookReadingSolvangBlog Tour

There were some really great posts last week for the From Ashes Into Light Blog Tour. Gudrun visited several blogs and gave interviews and a guest post herself. Check them out:

There are just a few more stops in the coming week, we will keep you posted either here on Gudrun’s website, or at my website: www.raincloudpress.com. Stayed tuned to a link to Gudrun’s first radio interview, which is playing on the 22nd of April. I hope you have enjoyed following the tour, and learning more about Gudrun and the process of writing her novel From Ashes Into Light. It’s been an honor to help midwife her book into the world! If you’ve finished reading the book, don’t forget to write a honest review on Amazon, it’s a huge help to our marketing goals.

Book Event

You are invited to a book reading, signing and questions and answers with Gudrun Mouw on Saturday, May 7th at 11 am. This event will be held at The Grange at 2374 Alamo Pintado Ave. in Los Olivos, California. This event is cohosted by The Book Loft (Solvang) and the Solvang Public Library. Books will be available for purchase.

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We head east away from cool coastal fog and drive down the rim of the oblong shaped baking dish which is the valley at California’s center. It is triple digit hot, little vegetation grows on either side of the road; the landscape looks beige and dry. By the time we travel north on Highway 5 towards Stockton, Sacramento and Chico, we are blessing the car air conditioner–a small haven of cold inside a huge and relentless hot.

We do not want to leave our artificial climate, but there is more gas, water, food to buy and rest stops to visit. We arrive at our destination more than 8 hours later, collapsing on the bed in our hotel room. Even the pool does not look inviting since evening shade has not yet arrived. Heat has definitely confronted our sense of normalcy.

We had been invited to dinner and re-enter a hot car to visit family. We marvel at the delightful energy of a 5 year old and a 3 year old. I sit with my welcoming ice water feeling a bit weak from potential heat exhaustion but still the proud grandmother. My daughter encourages me to take a cool shower when a wet washcloth doesn’t seem to help.

Afterwards, I notice my younger grandson had discovered a new phrase, “for the rest of my life,” which he repeats several times, and this makes me smile. It also gives me reason to ponder. What can I say is true “for the rest of my life?”grandmaPool

That night, I have a vivid dream. I am giving a talk which is not being well received by my audience. In the dream, I quickly change course. I do not allow myself to become shy or unnerved. I dig deep into myself and bring forth the truth of that moment. Looking back at that dream, I am thinking, I wish adjusting to challenge were always that easy.

I know for the rest of my life that “change” is both a confrontation and an opportunity. The unexpected often requires difficult re-orientation, and traveling is the type of adventure that often tests our capacity to deal with the variabilities of life.

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I have been waiting for weeks to see a dripping wet fog like this in order to safely burn deadwood, gathered from around the property, in our barbecue pit. I remember decades back when park rangers at another property knocked on the door to remind us to finish fire clearance by the beginning of June. Now, due to drought, fire clearance not only has become a year-round job but even in March and April hills look hay-bleached and dry.

The fire burns crisply in spite of dew dropping on my head with startling intensity. Heat from the flames warm a cool, damp early morning. I continue to clean the area around the fire pit, bring a hose closer and make sure the full watering can is within easy reach. I gather leaves and break twigs to a manageable size.

Log

I smile at the log that my son-in-law had placed horizontally near the fire pit as his seat during the last visit. We had been setting logs vertically, when using them as seats, as a way to make it easier for older backs. After my family left, I did not move the horizontal log, because I wanted to test it out for myself, quickly recognizing how extremely stable my son-in-law’s way of placing the log was. I sit there this morning, close to the ground, feeling solid and well focused on the task at hand. In my mind, I call the log, “Zeke’s seat.”

I am reminded of a new meditation path begun by a student. I had wondered, at first, why there? I became aware that walking the start of this newly begun trail was a more gentle experience, compared to the other more steep meditation path. The new path is not yet finished, but I continue to work on it. I call it “Sue’s path.”

Birds fly around the fire pit, dive bombing surprisingly close. What do they see that interests them so close to the flames?

After a couple of hours, I feel tired and remind myself: You’ve been awake since 2:00 am. You have sat for meditation, done yoga and cleaned house in preparation for weekend visitors. It is definitely time to halt, but motion doesn’t want to stop.

What is the solution? I set myself small winding-down goals and create finishing-mode activities like a runner at the end of her race who keeps going but at a slower pace. A week passes. New plans arrive, new visions and new challenges.

Ultimately, I seek to have the wisdom to embrace the unexpected, to accommodate change, and, as a friend said today, to be “welcoming.”

April 30, 2015

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I have been reflecting on my teacher’s death (or as the yogis refer to the passing of a master, his Mahasamadhi) after watching the 2010 David Grubin documentary on the life story, “The Buddha.” I think of myself as a student yearning for her teacher and realize that the teacher dies not as a punishment but as the ultimate teaching. Again and again in the more than 10 years since my teacher left his body, I have embraced and experienced his prediction that the spirit of his teachings would be ever more accessible. Why this wanting to weep now? Is it because I have not been fully content, lately, with my teaching life?

I struggle with a poem that seems to want to come forth against my wishes, appearing to point towards something I know not what:

 

The student yearns for peace

and peace retreats

to avoid harassment.

 

The student yearns for understanding,

and understanding dies

knowing it will resurrect.

 

The student yearns for love

and love falls asleep

so it may freshly awake.

 

I look out at the courtyard that is our winter jungle of weeds, wildflowers and fallen palm fronds. I see pockets of purple, orange, yellow, and white within a profusion of greens. I hear a bird calling and a mower mowing.

backyardYesterday, we burned one of the deadwood piles in the fire pit under the moist protection of fog. Today, gloom has dissolved; the sun shines once again. A lizard does pushups on the warm bench. A dove dive bombs at something I cannot see, and I do not know whether my questions have been, or even need to be, answered.

 

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