Rev. Nancy Ballinger has lived in Morro Bay with her husband Ron Schow since 1993. As an educator and Marriage, Family and Child Therapist she taught internationally for 10 yrs. with Quest International, consulted with alcohol treatment programs, served as Children's Bereavement Counselor for Hospice of SLO and had a private practice until 2000.
In 1996 Nancy entered an interfaith seminary, and in 2000, graduated and was ordained. She is the Spiritual Director and founder of AWAKENING Interfaith Spiritual Community, Morro Bay a ministry in the spiritual tradition of Kriya Yoga, which offers an interfaith way of living through meditation and a holistic lifestyle.
Rev. Ballinger offers classes, worship services, retreats, weddings, memorials and spiritual guidance counseling, bringing a rich background in Eastern and Western spirituality and philosophy, and an inspiring message of living an authentic life to one's fullest potential.
Finding the Sacred In Everyday Life
By Nancy Ballinger
Oral tradition, Old European Ancestral Song
"Oh, may this be the one who will bring forward
the good, true and beautiful in our family lineage;
Oh, may this be the one
who will break the harmful family and national patterns."
Please don't tell her, but I'm creating a blanket for my nine-month old granddaughter, River, for her first Christmas. It is a tradition I startedyears ago with her big brother, Ryan. The design of the blanket is simple; two equal lengths of fabric anchored together by hundreds of knots around the border. As I twist and secure the cloth, I feel the connection of the old and the new. I sense the presence of ancestors who have gone before and the generation just arriving. Joining the fabric, I know that I am the link and bond binding the two. With this realization, I am called upon to choose, commit and carry forward what is good, true and beautiful in our family lineage and to leave behind what no longer serves the highest good.
"To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven."
As we enter the December holidays, our thoughts often turn toward family and years past. Some memories are filled with joy, others bittersweet or painful. All of them, however, are a part of the fabric of our lives and have contributed to making us who we are today. This year I invite you to pause, remember and reflect upon your family, connecting with the never-ending thread that interlaces us all in the great tapestry of life. That thread is the thread of love.
While creating River's blanket, I smiled as I remembered years ago creating a similar lap blanket for my mom to take with her to the Alzheimer's home. It was a heartbreaking time as the family decided we could no longer care for her in her own home. I spent days in tears creating her blanket, filled with memories of her unfailing commitment and tender love for our family. Then, soon after sending mom off with the blanket, I got a call from my sister Lynn. She was horrified to tell me that mom had immediately taken it upon herself to untie the hundreds of knots I had secured holding her blanket together!! When I heard this, I smiled. I knew in her dementia, Mom had no idea what she was un-doing, and got busy doing what she thought needed to be done.
Mom (Mary Ballinger) with her parents - 1923
Nancy (me) - 1950
This happens not only with blankets but also in families. We come apart. Through pride, arrogance, fear, pain, judgment or, as in Mom's case, confusion, we lose our connection with each other. The ties between us become loosened. Sometimes separation between family members continues for generations because no one is willing to take on the job of repairing the snags and tangles in the relationship, and securing them in a more enduring healing way.
After the call from Lynn, I went to see Mom and picked up the blanket to repair the damage. This time, however, I made sure the knots were more securely bound. I had assumed the twists I originally applied would be enough but saw the error in my thinking. Yes, Mom's was the last blanket I made without a double knot! What seemed like a mistake or potential disaster became a learning experience that has benefitted future generations of blanket recipients.
This holiday season I invite you to join me in reflecting upon our families in a spirit of healing—with gentleness, dignity, and compassion. Let us look at the generations that have gone before to honor and celebrate what needs to be honored and celebrated and grieve and forgive what needs to be grieved and forgiven. Let us ask ourselves, how can I bring forward what is good, true, and beautiful in our family lineage and leave behind what no longer serves?
We begin by consciously honoring our families for the struggles they have experienced. We look to our teachers in the generations past, with discernment, knowing that we are the teachers in the generations forward. We learn from positive as well as negative role models. We ask ourselves: "What have I learned from my ancestors' negative examples as well as their triumphs about how to live my life? How am I like them? How am I different?"
In my family, there is a generational pattern of substance abuse. I choose to end this legacy with my own life in recovery from addictions. As I join the generations past and future, I claim freedom for my children, grandchildren, and the generations to come through my consciousness and behavior as a role model. We also have a history of deep love and commitment to family, and faith in an infinite divine power. I claim this fierce love of family and legacy of faith for the generations to come, though my life and example.
I own our entire family legacy as blessing.
Remembering that each of our lives contribute to the challenges and opportunities of future generations, what will you claim in your family legacy and what will you bring to an end? I offer in closing a Zuni prayer that invites gratitude, healing and forgiveness through the years.
May all families find healing and may our world family be one.
"Do not despise the breath of your fathers,
but draw it into your body.
That our roads may reach to where the life-giving road of our sun father
That, clasping one another tight,
Holding one another fast,
We may finish our roads together;
That this may be, I add to your breath now.
To this end:
May my father bless you with life;
May your road reach to dawn lake,
May your road be fulfilled."
Sunday Sacred Celebrations at Awakening
1st Sunday of each month
Live music, meditation, inspirational message
Candle lighting ceremony
"Step Consciously into the New Year"
If you are looking for a loving, safe place to find the sacred in everyday life, Reverend Nancy Ballinger offers spiritual guidance counseling. With over 20 years as a licensed marriage and family therapist and studies in Eastern and Western philosophies she brings a unique, open perspective to her counseling. Sliding scale fee.
Rufous Hummingbird image on banner by Mike Baird.