DIVINE GRACE MINISTRY
April showers bring May flowers. I am so looking forward to flowers and warm weather. May is a month filled with holidays. I went on the website of May Daily Holidays and was amazed to find out there are 88 holidays. We all know May Day on May 1st, Mother’s Day on May 13th, Armed Forces Day on May 19th, and Memorial Day on May 28th. However, you may not have heard of the following:
• May 1st- Mother Goose Day, Save the Rhino Day
• May 3rd- Lumpy Rug Day
• May 4th- Bird Day, National Candied Orange Peel Day
• May 6th- No Diet Day
• May 8th- No Socks Day
• May 9th- Lost Sock Memorial Day
• May 11th- Eat What You Want Day (I like this one)
• May 14th- Dance Like a Chicken Day
• May 23rd- National Brown Bag It Day
• May 27th- Sunscreen Day
• May 28th- National Hamburger Day
• May 31st- National Macaroon Day
May is also Older Americans Month.
In reflecting about what to write about, I heard about Cassandra Joan Butler who teaches throughout WNY presenting a wide variety of holistic programs and workshops including the first meditation program in the Buffalo Public School District.
When we spoke, I found our chat incredibly enlightening and I learned many helpful ideas that I think you might find useful. I asked Cassandra where she grew up and she told me that she felt a connection with my subject of last month’s column, Donna Wieand because she too was a member of the Annunciation Parish. It was there where Cassandra met a visiting priest, Father Bela Krigler, who would change her life. He identified her as a good candidate to go to Calasanctius School for the Gifted and Talented in Buffalo. As part of the curriculum, students traveled the country by bus, camping in such diverse places as the Grand Canyon, the Florida Keys, and even outside New York City.
It was at Calasanctius where Cassandra’s curiosity and interest in spiritual matters blossomed. Calasanctius had a most rigorous and diverse program. Students were required to do college level research and Cassandra’s focus was on ancient mythology, spirituality, and consciousness studies. She shared, “At 15, I was investigating the Memphite creation myth from Egypt. I have always been interested in learning about all the different religions and my parents encouraged me.” She studied comparative religions at McMasters University. Since she didn’t want to be a nun or a missionary, she decided to be a social worker and transferred to Cornell University in 1978 to get her degree.
After jobs working in the social work field at a psychiatric hospital and a nursing home, Cassandra’s yearning to learn more inspired her to continue her studies in communications at Syracuse University.
After graduate school, Cassandra worked as an anchor/reporter for an ABC-TV affiliate station in Burlington, VT, and had an exclusive interview with then Second Lady Barbara Bush. Cassandra had asked Mrs. Bush about her spirituality and religious practices and was met with a reflective answer, “God always listens but doesn’t always answer the way we want.”
Cassandra was wooed back to Buffalo by a news director to work at a local radio station where she met her ex-husband. They have two adult children, a 27-year-old daughter who is pursuing a law career and a 24-year-old son who studies communications and philosophy.
Back in Buffalo, Cassandra blended her interest in spirituality with practicality and developed various programs reflective of her early interest in spirituality. She has taught courses in massage therapy and healing, intuitive development, astrology, energy medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, learning styles, and hypnosis and meditation both locally and internationally at learning centers and colleges. A tool common to consciousness studies and spirituality is the practice of meditation.
Cassandra spent a decade at Trocaire College first as an instructor and then as the director of the Massage Therapy program. She said, “I wanted to not only produce good technical massage therapists but ones with heart, compassion, and sensitivity, so I introduced meditation to the students.” Cassandra says the students reported having less stress from meditating three times a week during class, and the practice helped them improve test scores.
Last year, Cassandra started working in the Buffalo schools through the Northwest Community Center. She set up a meditation room at School 45 West Hertel Academy as a team approach with teachers and staff. The room is beautifully decorated with wall hangings, lights, and mediation pillows. She conducted research on the before and after of the meditation interventions and discovered that stress and challenging behavior declined within the school.
Now she is working with the Buffalo Schools Saturday morning programs. This semester, she provides meditation instruction at Riverside High School. Many of the students are new immigrants with language challenges and they participate in meditation practices to calm and relax.
I have heard the term “holistic” used and asked her what that means. She said it encompasses eating right and taking care of your mind, body, and spirit. Meditation is a universal practice that ties everything together, especially when you are stressed out. Cassandra says that to her, holistic also means identifying the age cycles we are in and at what age we meet particular challenges.
Cassandra continues to provide interesting programs in WNY; one in particular will be held the weekend of June 1st and June 2nd at the Wyndam Garden Hotel in Williamsville; it will be a spiritual look at Buffalo! Over the summer, she can be found teaching at Chautauqua Institution, Lilydale, and at Fellowships of the Spirit. She is available for programs and workshops. Check out her website: <www.cassandrajoanbutler.com>
If you know of a successful program in your community or would like more information please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Carol S. Wolf is married to her husband Dick for 52 years. She has 2 sons and 4 grandchildren. She is a writer, speaker, storyteller and leader of workshops and retreats. She is an Associate Spiritual Director at the St. Joseph Center for Spirituality and a member of the Network of Biblical Storytellers WNY.|
Carol wrote this book as part of her two year Master's program in the Academy for Biblical Storytellers. It has just been published and is available for $10.00. Carol is an author, speaker and leader of workshops meditations and conference.
"This book give you an opportunity to experience how, when we become a part of the biblical story, we often find meaning for our own life. It is an incredible resource for confirmation, baptism, and intergenerational groups." Trracy Radosevic, Dean, Academy for Biblical Storytellers.
Anyone interested in buying a book can email me @email@example.com. The book is $10.00 + $2.00 mailing.