Monday, October 31, 2022

October Prayer for Children and Parents


October Prayer for Children and Parents:

Father, we pray that the heart of the parents will be toward their children, and the heart of the children will be toward their parents. Give our children obedient hearts that they may obey their parents in the Lord, for this is right. Grant them the will to honor their father and mother that it may go well with them and that they may enjoy long life on the earth in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Based on Ephesians 6:1–3. 


Dawn Pisturino

Monday, October 24, 2022

Starry, Starry Night


I’ve visited many art galleries and museums, including the De Young Museum in San Francisco, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York City, and seen many wonderful and inspiring paintings, but what really stands out in my mind is Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night. Its brilliant blue and yellow colors, active night sky, and peaceful ambience (in spite of the strong brush strokes and turbulent sky) provoke speculation, mystery, and fascination, in my mind. What was Van Gogh thinking? What was he feeling? Most importantly, what was he seeing?

It’s well known that he suffered from mental illness and attempted to commit suicide by shooting himself in the chest. He later died of the wound. His death surprised people who believed that he was actually in a more positive frame of mind at the time of his death. But who knew what was really going on in his mind and in his heart?

(People who have decided to kill themselves often appear more positive and energetic because they have made the final decision and no longer feel conflicted about their actions. In fact, people can feel so depressed that they lack the energy to actually harm themselves. Appearances are deceiving, and it’s important to remember this if you are dealing with someone in your life who suffers from depression and suicidal ideation.)

Sometimes, people ask if persons who are mentally ill are more artistic than others. When I worked in mental health, I met scores of patients who were phenomenal artists. Not only did they possess an exceptional natural talent for art, but engaging in art helped them to concentrate their attention, focus their thoughts, freely express their ideas and emotions, make sense of the larger world around them, distract them from troubling thoughts and feelings, and help them to cope with anxiety and depression. (When I worked in Flagstaff, we had an actual art therapist who would come in and do art projects with the patients.) I cannot say that their mental illness made them more artistic. In some cases, their lack of self-esteem and confidence actually caused them to suppress their talent. On the other hand, people who are intimately in touch with their emotions make great artists because they can freely express themselves without regard to social convention and self-constraint. But people who are over-sensitive and cannot manage their own emotions can be more susceptible to mental health issues.

So, it’s a conundrum. Did Vincent Van Gogh’s mental illness make him a great artist – or did his mental illness interfere with his natural artistic talent? I don’t know.

What do you say?

Dawn Pisturino, RN

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, October 14, 2022

The Ten Incarnations of Lord Vishnu


In the Vaishnava sect of the Hindu religion, the incarnation of God is an important belief. Isvara, the highest God, appears on earth in the form of Vishnu in order to preserve Truth, destroy evil, and maintain balance in the world. Vishnu's role is to preserve the cosmic order. When Vishnu appears on earth in any avatar, it is a sign that the world is in trouble and needs help. Other Hindus believe that only certain aspects of the God manifest in the form of avatars. The Vaishnava tradition points to ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu, although these may or may not be all-inclusive.

1. Matsya, the giant fish: A young fish suddenly appeared in Manu's hands. He advised Manu to build a boat, in preparation of a huge flood. When the flood came, the fish appeared from the ocean and pulled the boat to the top of a large mountain. In this way, Manu was able to save seven Vedic rishis, the Vedas, and many plants, seeds, and animals.

2. Kurma, the giant tortoise: Indra, lord of the heavens, was cursed by a sage and called on Vishnu to help him. Vishnu advised him to churn the ocean of milk and command the devas (gods) and asuras (demons) to gather the elixir of life from the milk. Using Vasuki the serpent, the mountain Meru, and Vishnu in the form of a tortoise, the companions churned the ocean.

3.Varaha, the giant boar: The Mahabharata tells how the earth sank into the cosmic depths and Vishnu, in the form of a wild boar, raised up the earth with his large, powerful tusks.

4. Narasimha, the half-man and half-lion: In his fourth incarnation, Vishnu appeared in the body of a half-man and half-lion. Vishnu then defeated and killed Hiranyakasipu, the brother of Hiranyaksha, who had gained immortality, grown arrogant and cruel, mistreated the people, and defied the gods.

5. Vamana, infinity in a dwarf body: To aid Indra and defeat Mahabali (a demon king), Vishnu appeared as Vamana, a dwarf Brahmana. Vamana vanquished the king and banished him to the nether world.

6. Parashurama, the warrior with invincible axe: In this incarnation, Vishnu appeared as a human warrior. After performing penance to Shiva, he was granted an invincible axe. When a king named Kartavirya Arjuna stole a cow from his father, Parashurama defeated the king's army and then killed the king. The king's sons killed Parashurama's father in retaliation, and Parashurama killed all the Kshatriya (warrior) kings in turn. 

7. Rama, the prince of Ayodhya: The Ramayana tells the story of Rama, another incarnation of Vishnu. Rama and his wife, Sita, lived a simple life in the forests of Dandarakanya. Sita was kidnapped by King Ravana. Rama rescued her by building a bridge with the help of a monkey army. Rama killed Ravana and freed Sita. The couple returned to Ayodhya and Rama was crowned King.

8. Balarama, the elder brother of Lord Krishna: Balarama, the elder brother of Lord Krishna, grew up to be a cowherd. When his uncle sent demons to kill him and Krishna, Balarama killed them. During the Kurukshetra war, Balarama trained Duryodhana and Bhima to fight with maces. He did not participate in the war, however.

9. Krishna, the Sutradhar of the Mahabharata: Krishna lived a remarkable life, performing miracles and acts of heroism. He killed his uncle, Kamsa, who tried to murder him and his brother, Balarama. Krishna became a philosopher and adviser to the Pandavas during the Mahabharata war but did not fight himself.

10. Kalki: A common belief is that Vishnu, at the end of the Kaliyuga, will return in the form of Kalki, riding a special white horse and carrying an invisible sword, and defeat all the evil rulers on earth.