The Ambrosia of Truth

Happy New Year,

I have been making my E Pluribus Flag series for 15 years now. This year I plan to celebrate diverse culture more than ever and I have a simple way to do this. I hope you too will join in. I plan to watch out everyday for special gifts of culture that enrich all of our lives. Yesterday you might have seen my first Instagram post. I used a pair of Nordic patterned socks to patch the elbows of my favorite cashmere sweater. Enjoying and putting to use colorful patterns and craftwork inspired by one culture is one thing but today I want to go to the utterly opposite end of the spectrum and share something deeper.

On New Year’s Day I listened to an inspiring New Year’s talk by Gurumayi Chidvilasananda. I came away cherishing the term Satya Rasa – the ambrosia of truth. Today the idea of truth is very confused. It is too often manipulated, politicized, misunderstood and abused. I for one feel battered after this last year but yesterday I dipped into a sweet, calm, delicious pool of truth and enjoyed profound, ancient gifts of wisdom from across the world. http://www.siddhayoga.org/gurumayi-chidvilasananda

The company of truth is unmistakable when the heart is open and when the mind is awakened, it is ambrosia. It is, also, as I heard yesterday “available to everyone.” I am reminded that my passion for exploring all the aspects of culture began during a fire ceremony at the Siddha Yoga Ashram upstate New York many years ago. Whether dealing with a damaged sweater or a battered heart we all have so much to offer each other. The fabric of our civilization is strong because of the profound and the practical gifts we share. I will be watching for them and sharing on Instagram, I hope you will join in and share inspirations about your culture too. Check in at – murielanyc or https://www.instagram.com/murielanyc/

Let’s Sing for Harmony

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If you like to sing please come and join us March 27th at Charlotte’s Place to sing a new version of our National Anthem.
This anthem is not about “bombs bursting in air” but about “people free with their prayer”. It’s time to shift the consciousness from war to harmony among all of us.
Take time to learn the new words of the song before March 27th.
Oh, say can you see by this day’s brilliant light
How so joyf’lly we’ve made out of many, one dreaming?
Take broad stripes and bright stars and a unified sight
O’er the country we watch all our new neighbors beaming.
And the freedom that’s here, people free with their prayer,
Give proof every year that E Pluribus we share.
Oh, say does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and diverse home we’ve made.
Join us March 27th from 10:00AM to 12 Noon at Charlotte’s Place, 109 Greenwich Street above Rector Street. Please RSVP info@epluribus.us

Work in Progress

It’s been a long time since I wrote the last blog. So there’s a lot to share. I am delighted the work is out there again for people to go and see it at LaGuardia ‘s Atrium Lobby Showcase Gallery East. There are three gorgeous glass cases in the lobby of the building and I have 8 flags in each of two cases and 4 in the center, including the new Mexican, Mali and Zaire American E Pluribus flags.The show will be up until January 30.

Meanwhile the project is always in progress. Right now my Mum has almost completed embroidering the English American flag it is amazing with rows of Tudor roses and heraldic crowns. We are both happy to see this flag come together because we are English and until this design came together we were feeling a bit left out.

There are so many different cultural facets to this country that we could be making these flags forever. Currently in progress are the Uzbekistan, the Madagascar, the Dutch, the Canadian two Italian and the French American flags. The way it works is that I ponder the recognizable imagery, or gifts of the various cultural demographics until I can come up with a really strong visual that applies comfortably to the US Flag design. The materials are very diverse and fun and allow me to explore all kinds of creative traditions from various points of view. For example, I just found a lovely Suzani cloth in Rome that I will use for the Uzbekistan flag’s star field. For the stripes I have some fabulous hand woven silk ikat that I bought online.

When I was in Amsterdam earlier this year I bought 100 wooden red tulips and a bunch of miniature clogs for the Dutch flag. I am still trying to figure out how to cobble it together. And believe me ‘cobble’ is a very good word for this here. The Madagascar flag is a very fun project. I am crocheting out of raffia a dimensional flag in the style of a great basket bag that I bought at Blue Bag at 266 Elizabeth Street in NYC. I’m always sending people there because everyone comments on the bag.

All of my friends are saving wine corks for me because, for the French flag I plan to stitch together about 1200 corks so that the red or white tips of the corks will express the stripes of the flag. The star field will be made from champagne corks with wire stars fashioned out of the champagne cork cages. They are looking really cool. Last year I collected dried and stored two boxes of bright red maple leaves for the Canadian American flag. I can’t believe I still haven’t had time to put that one together, I have all the parts. The field will be birch bark that I found in my local woods. The stripes out of the red maple leaves and the stars will be pine cones. My image of Canada is of rich and glorious wild forests. I have Venetian papers for one Italian flag and a design ready for construction of a marble tiled Italian flag.

So you can see there is plenty to do. Often I do get sidetracked like with the Mali flag which came together very quickly. I found the fabric after stumbling into a favorite shop on Greenwich Avenue and then I went to my local weekly flea market hoping that the African bead vendor would have some Mali wedding beads. How lucky I am, he was there for only the second time this year and he had only two Mali wedding bead necklaces so I bought them. One went into the flag, the other I’ve been wearing.

Well, I said there was a lot to share. I hope you can get to see the flags in person. If not please enjoy them at the online gallery of www.epluribus.us

Unum meaning?

Now that I am beginning to develop the products associated with this art series, I think it is important to clarify the true meaning of this E Pluribus initiative. I am not really in the business of selling flags, or making and selling cards, posters, jewelry or other hopefully exciting items that may come from the E Pluribus inspiration, I am only in the business of touching an idea and attempting to make that idea real, tasty and deeply felt. That idea is that we are all one – UNUM. However, I hope that you will buy these products so that together we may share this principle of unity and respect for each other.

E Pluribus might be thought of as a new idea technology. It is a technology for living together. Think of it, billions of dollars are spent almost daily on the technology of war, technology to keep us apart and fearful of each other; what if we spent even a fraction of that considering how we can live together in harmony?

This is not really a new idea; it has been done throughout history. There have always been intersections of culture where brilliant enhancements to civilization have blossomed. Pasta, flamenco, and jazz grew by cultural fusion. Silk, coffee and law as we know it would not enhance our lives if not for exchange of ideas and of knowledge.

We are one in so many ways as humans no matter what race we are our DNA proves to be only minimally variable. But what about the greater part of ourselves – that part that feels, loves, cares, strives, shares, expresses and lives? That part of us that seeks out love and cares for family; how different is that in each of us? I can only imagine how you may feel when you experience loss or love or triumph or humiliation by examining how I feel under those circumstances. When I do that and I conclude that my experience is probably similar if not the same as yours then I desire from the bottom of my heart that you will have the very best experience in this life.

One of the best books I’ve ever read, The Bhagavad Gita, speaks of the nature of war and refers to the dharmic war as opposed to the adharmic war. The dharmic war is the righteous war, not in the Christian sense of a righteousness that is explained or taught but in a sense that is a heartfelt understanding of what is good and right and respectful. In the adharmic war the opponent is seen as inhuman, some kind of devil and is treated as less than oneself and represented as evil. Sound familiar? This is how human beings can be convinced to kill someone else who is exactly like themselves- a person who strives to live a good life and provide the best for their family.

I know: some of my friends think I’m crazy. So OK maybe there are a few “bad apples” but the rest of us don’t need to follow those trouble makers. If we follow our hearts we can’t follow trouble.

Instead let’s look for and create technologies for living together. This E Pluribus initiative is about inspiration and celebration of diversity, it is about showing off how we can live together even though we may live differently. DIverse dress, food, music, customs, celebrations, worship, lifestyles and yes, even religions enhance our civilized world. I hope to build an E PLURIBUS shop where you can share your products that celebrate diversity along with mine. All ideas are welcome and will be carefully considered.

My first recommendation in the spirit of this blog is a new book by Ed Strosser and Michael Prince entitled, “STUPID WARS”. The premise of the book is if we haven’t learned how to stop fighting each other by reading about “successful” war efforts then let’s examine the really dumb campaigns. I haven’t finished the book so I am not writing a review, but right off the top it is funny and engaging.

buy STUPID WARS

www.stupidwars.com

Remember the Flushing Remonstrance

Last week I was amazed and not surprised to learn about the Flushing Remonstrance, today is the 350 year anniversary of that remarkable act of courage by 30 inhabitants of the Town of Flushing. All United States citizens should know it, I was amazed that I had never heard of this document before but not surprised that such a thing would originate in Queens. Queens is a remarkable example of harmonious coexistence of diverse cultures and respect for all religions today and so it is not surprising that even in its origins it was so.

The Flushing Remonstrance is a remarkable protest written in 1657 by the Town Clerk and the Schout (or sheriff) and also signed by 28 residents of the colony. It was delivered to Peter Stuyvesant in response to a decree that no colonist should welcome Quakers into the community. Peter Stuyvesant was then governor of the New Netherlands.
I particularly love this part of the remonstrance:

“The law of love, peace and liberty in the states extending to Jews, Turks and Egyptians, as they are considered sons of Adam, which is the glory of the outward state of Holland, soe love, peace and liberty, extending to all in Christ Jesus, condemns hatred, war and bondage.”

It goes on to include Presbyterians, Independents, Baptists or Quakers as those they would be glad to,”see anything of God in them, desiring to doe unto all men as we desire all men should doe unto us”
And finally to make the point perfectly clear the concluding chapter says this:

“Therefore if any of these said persons come in love unto us, we cannot in conscience lay violent hands upon them, but give them free egresse and regresse unto our Town, and houses, as God shall persuade our consciences”

As a result of the letter Stuyvesant jailed and then banished the Town Clerk and the Shout and appointed a new Flushing Town government.

It takes individuals to make war and it takes individuals to make peace. If we are looking carefully at events today and back through history we may notice that it takes much more courage to make peace than it does to make war. It is ironic, sad, and immensely disappointing that on this historic day of remembering the signing of the Flushing Remonstrance that we hear about the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. So many Pakistanis have been welcomed into Queens. I ask a simple question – if Pakistanis can live in harmony in Queens with Jews, Christians and Hindus in close proximity; how can this kind of harmony and respect infect the consciousness of those in Pakistan.
Even though this is a document not well remembered and little celebrated, the Flushing Remonstrance is a document of such significance that its brilliant ideals were incorporated into the United States Constitution 134 years after its signing in the First Amendment:

“Congress shall make no law respecting and establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

Please remember the Flushing Remonstrance; celebrate its high ideals. Like the inhabitants of the new Town of Flushing in 1657 we live in a very small world – people of diverse religions and cultures live right next door. We are all siblings and we are enriched by the presence of diverse ideas, expressions, and paths to the divine.

To read the Flushing Remonstrance please go to: http://www.nyym.org/flushing/remons.html

To read the Constitution go to: http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html#Am1