Category: Spirituality


 

Lately, my spiritual peer mentoring group and I have been discussing how our concept or image of God has changed as we have gotten older. Most of us have originally come from traditional religious roots but over the course of our lives and especially in our eldering years, many of us have come to a point of questioning all that was programmed into us by church, family or state.

This of course is not true for everybody who are comforted by the same images for a lifetime. But in my particular world I guess we are a circle of quiet rabble rousers.. some might also, fearing our quest for fresh images of the Divine, call us heretics!

But that is only the name given to seekers and those who question, by others for whom there is only one TRUE story, tradition or concept of how we got here, why we are here, who in the Divine World made it all happen and who is listening when we are called to prayer. To think that no one is listening is to all of us, a heart-rending if not dreadful thought. But we pray anyway because we are “called to prayer” and love the invitation, but sometimes our prayer starts “Here I am… and to Whom it May Concern …. ” because Patriarchal concepts of the Masculine Divine do not fit with our lived spiritual experience any more.

It would certainly be easier and more comforting if we KNEW for sure who was listening,  or if we were not bothered by just speaking the traditional prayers addressing the Heavenly Power(s) by rote. But alas, we are in between what was and what might be, these Prayers that include the words, “what if?” and “maybe”.

For myself, I have found that talking in prayer to the Saints (who once had a human experience) inspires me, and even more personally, also praying to my Angels ie My Guardian Angel, and my Library Angel  (who might be one and the same), they  who constantly bring the Light of Guidance or Protection or hints of what I need to investigate next for my best unfolding and Destiny. I know when it happens that they have heard  because if those mysterious synchronicities that make me smile, if not laugh out loud catching me by surprise on the almost immediate heals of my prayers or beseeching. My Angels though engaged in serious work, ever have a playful sense of humor in their high Service with me.

I have also found comfort especially in sad times to image the Angels weeping with us in times of personal or communal grief. And there is much for which to grieve right now in our society.

Several years ago there was something going round the internet… an experience of sending a team of Angels to each other…the “story” was that there was a special team of Angels going to the homes of those they were sent to and would stay for seven days. We who were hosting were to set up an altar with white candles and fresh white flowers before and during their (invisible) stay. Our prayers during that time would be carried heavenwords in a special way.

It was a lovely experience for those who participated in this little spiritual ritual.. Perhaps the key word is “Maybe” but whether or not the Angels were actually in our homes for those seven days,  our personal vibration was lifted higher, WE  were changed and inspired to be like kindly Angels to those around us and in our own environments for the betterment of all.

If that team of heavenly spirits, the Traveling Angels, are still on the move I wish that they would be sent to me once again for these are challenging times.

For those of us who in these times are uncertain as to who is actually listening when we send our “thoughts and prayers” outward and upwards , I sense that the Angels MAY be (Maybe) eternally present to companion us and deliver our lamentations where they need to go.

And I am going with that!

This poem by Mary Oliver just most recently and  rather serendipitously “appeared in my life …(did one of the Angels send this for my awareness while I question who is listening to my prayers?)

  The World I Live In

I have refused to live

locked in the ordinary house of reasons and proofs.

The world I live in and believe in

is wider than that. And anyways,

what’s wrong with Maybe? 

You wouldn’t believe what once

or twice I have seen. I’ll just

tell you this:

only if there are angels in your head, will you

ever, possibly, see one.

                                                       ( my ballerina grandaughter )

 

 

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One of the loveliest meditation practices in retreat work is praying with clay, a medium whose primary virtue is its ability to be shaped by the intent of the artist whose hands are able to bring imagination, warmth and life from a seemingly inert, cold and compact ball of earth.

In the retreat experience, the prayer that often accompanies this centering and contemplative “shaping” experience is drawn from Old Testament scripture (Jeremiah) in which we are encouraged to be like clay in the hands of God, the Master Potter, allowing ourselves to be formed into goodness by the guidance of the Divine.

Clay is also a therapeutic tool in retreats for Healing and Wholeness aside from a religious focus although such healing often includes a deep spiritual sense of awe and relief that can border on the miraculous. In such exercises, a story from our lives that is painful or un-healed can be crafted into an image that holds and carries our experience so that we ponder it and receive insight, release, and movement into re-creation. As we shape the clay with intent, we may also re-shape our lives when it is necessary to let go of the old forms that have lost their purpose.

Many years ago when I was going through a very intense period of loss…divorce, single parenting, challenging financial survival while crafting a self-employed music teaching career.. I sought inspiration, support, deepening and sanctuary in a long-term program of training in retreat work at a wonderful nearby Catholic Retreat Center.

During one of the retreats on healing and wholeness, we worked with clay as a meditation. Desperately needing to be centered and still, coming in from a noisy, chaotic,  confusing, challenge-filled personal world that needed re-shaping for the survival of my children and myself, I took that cold ball of clay and worked it until all that pain and broken-hearted-ness entered it and became the clearest answer to what I needed for healing, comfort and clarity:  a cave/womb of refuge and sanctuary in which sacred silence, stillness and chosen periodic solitude would be the best medicine.

For whatever reason, I crafted on the back outside wall of this Cave, this Sanctuary, snakes which originally I think symbolized the challenges I was dealing with, and the safety of my sacred shelter in keeping them outside until I knew how to work with them. Yet over the years, those snakes have become instead, Guardians of the Goddess, protecting me and that sacred space ..the cave of my Heart where much of my work in the world has been crafted.

I also remember that at the time of this shaping, the little figure who was ME, had her hands over her eyes..and though over the years that has come to mean shutting out worldly distractions in order to dive deeply into the cave of my heart for Wisdom, during that initial time of crafting this image, the hands over the eyes symbolized the intense grief and the weeping I could not allow myself to do in real life with its demanding immediate responsibilities because I always had to be “on”.

However, that is all past now and there have been many many happinesses and blessings since then, as well as the inevitable periodic challenges and losses that are always a part of life. But over the years, this little ME image has traveled with me through all the chapters of my book of life, reminding me to take the time for withdrawing from the chaos of a conflicted world and particularly at this time of our deteriorating political national culture.

For me, the snakes are still Guardians, protecting the need for silence and stillness to Discern Truth, BUT these days when shifting focus, those snakes also symbolize the Lies and Deceptions that are rampant right now in our media culture and  socio-political landscape and must be kept outside, being agents of Soul pollution.

I has been a long time since I have worked with clay and sculpted images that have beauty and power for transformation. But I DO have a packet of clay here, just waiting to be touched and warmed into life. Like what happens each time I sit down to write an essay initially not knowing what it will actually be about, I am ready to be just as surprised (and informed) when that clay comes alive under my fingertips!

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I love surprises.

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

UU2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A walk at the beach, especially when the heart is heavy and sad, is never a disappointment. There are ALWAYS surprises and messages there for us when we have been cracked open emotionally and in pleading prayer have asked for guidance or a sign of hope that no matter what the issue, in time we will be able to move through the challenge.

We are in a very unsettled time here in the US as we experience the coming apart of our society politically, socially and most recently in the past week, another mass shooting of innocents with a weapon whose sole purpose is to kill as many as possible as fast as possible. Our American psyche has been battered this past year- and- a- half as we come face to face on a daily basis by internal corruption in high places and immoral and self-serving so-called leadership. But THIS issue now of mass killings over and over again has thrust us into a national and personal mixed cauldron of grief and rage as the people fight against a powerful gun lobby that is also determined to fight to the death to protect their own agenda and  profits.

A walk at the beach..with its wide and far horizon and the freshness of wind and consolation of the ever rocking ebb and flow of the tide…cannot solve the situation itself, but it can offer a break in the turbulence of emotion in difficult times, soothing our chaotic feelings and helping us to restore some sort of internal balance as we move through very uncertain and dangerous events requiring new decisions.

But as I said previously, when asking for heartfelt guidance and consolation in difficult times, we always receive an answer if we are aware.

And so for now,  a surprise message of guidance on a walk along the edge where the land meets the sea …the extra surprise when a message of compassion and hope was left in the sand as well… a gifted “communique” from the Universe.  Although created by human hands, the message left for all who might pass by ( even though I took it very personally as if  it were left for me) took on the energy of the Angelic. Which sometimes we humans are for each other, usually unaware that we have been so divinely commissioned.

SOMEone had been by before me …maybe it WAS an actual angel (?)…taking the time to craft this castle of peace. Maybe it was a prayer or meditation experience for them, maybe it was that plus a loving message for others as well to be still and Centered and not lose hope as WE lobby for a society of PEACE, not violence or war.

share Peace Castle COPY(3)

Who knows how long this had remained whole and intact there in the sand before the tide would in time come in and wash it away. As I continued my walk and then sat higher up near the  dues behind this little peace castle,  I watched several other people and couples come by, stopping to look down with surprise at this message. They each and all paused and gazed quietly as if at some holy relic in church, pondering for some long seconds before moving on.

It was comforting to see that no one maliciously attempted to kick or destroy it, but moved on ahead in their walk, leaving this creation to eventually dissolve into the Great Mother She-Sea naturally. In Peace.

There is deepest gratitude to whatever Human (or Angel) left this message.

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

 

 

It is Valentine’s Day today and at this particular time in my life, I am once again my own Valentine, as I have been over the past several years. I am also at a time of looking backwards, mindfully pondering where I have been in my life, where I am, presently, in the very much appreciated NOW, and lingering with questions regarding where I am headed in the future, next, in this still unknown third chapter of life.

I have been child, teenager, girlfriend, wife, lover, Mother, Professional, Grandmother. I have been many things at various stages, overlaying one onto the other like those Russian dolls that nest within each other, starting small and growing larger with each new role. I have been them all and today on a rather unusually configured Valentine’s Day culturally, astrologically and spiritually, I especially ponder the “me” that has been both Tartalina, and Priestess.

Two things: Today’s Valentine’s Day also falls on the day of Ash Wednesday. From an astrological/archetypal point of view, this is a rather interesting mix:  An “8th House” mix for those who speak and understand the poetic language of astrology.

The” 8th House”  is about several things but commonly  sex and death are initially considered.  Today’s Valentine’s Day oddly contains both themes for those who honor or ritualize both the popular cultural theme of romance and the more serious spiritual and religious consideration of death. This Valentine’s day offers us the opportunity to consider both sex/love and death as important and transformative experiences with the invitation to fully embrace Life.

In sex/love, the heart is opened and beating with Life, passion and connection. In death, the heart and beating are closed and earthly connection is released. In sex and love we can be healed but also we can be wounded which when lost, is like a death. In death, we if spiritually inspired, dream or believe our spirits move into a place of total love and merging with the All. Ash Wednesday reminds us of that return back to from where we came.

Big things to ponder here.

But now back to Tartalina and the Priestess.

A number of years ago, a dear artist Friend named Madeline, gifted me on my birthday with a doll she mad to celebrate the qualities of the sacred feminine and love of ritual that we both shared. The Priestess doll represents the spiritual quality of  the Virgin-One-Unto-Herself experience and knowing that is in every woman, some of us a little more aware than others of the sacred times of ritual, connection to the holiness/wholiness of the earth, the seasons , the phases of the moon and planets and the many seasons and moods within us. This beautiful doll with the golden hair representing the return of Spring’s bright sun in the month of May (my birthday month) and the waning moon on her forehead foreshadowing release and letting go speak to the same qualities that we experience in our lives.  There is much to ponder in the symbolism that Madeline placed artfully onto the Priestess Doll.  The Priestess is all knowing of the cycles of life …birth, the fullness of Life,  and death along the continuum of our time here. She knows we come from ashes and to ashes we shall return.   And I am her.

The other doll is “Tartalina”, made in a private workshop Madeline gave to me and another close friend of hers. Both myself and that friend were coming out of complex and  passionate love affairs that broke our hearts and we were in great need of healing.

When coming out of a passionate relationship that has been “the best and worst thing that every happened to us”,  there is a decision to be made in the grief process as to whether we close our hearts totally in renunciation and self protection, or to, after a time, keep our hearts open to the new, to risk love once again despite having been wounded.

I created “Tartalina” to hold that broken heart open in love and understanding, and to honor the alive passionate sensual part of my nature that is as holy and private as my deepest spirituality. She is about owning and loving the sacred, mischievous naughty, physical, spicy, tart-like feminine expression that is pure delight. I created her to be beautiful and earthy with her long legs delicately imprinted with garden vines and green hair of nature and veriditas for these are earthly as well as spiritual powers. She is a Valentine. And I am her.

I am Tartalina and Priestess combined and in this middle phase of the blessed “NOW” between the remembrances of the Past and the as-yet unknown answers of the Future, I honor and love them both, knowing I can call their qualities and virtues back in whenever necessary.

An incredible Love Story: The Artist is Present: As she sits  silently for eight hours  looking into the eyes  of anyone who wishes to be seen, she is startled when an important lover from the past takes the chair in front of her. Deeply moving.

Happy Valentine’s Day to me! …and with love to all of you as well!

From Christine, the greening spirit

Cranberyy 2

 

 

Over the years when each of my daughters and I get together we tend to visit, when not shopping for a special family dinner, beautiful places like gardens, museums, or nature places like the woods or the sea.

One year when spending a day in Newport RI looking at possible venues for her upcoming wedding, my daughter Melissa and I added to our together-field trip, a stop at St. George’s “Chapel” (cathedral!).

Walking through this magnificent church, through the main chapel, side chapels and the arched walkways, we were captivated by the colors and shifting quality of light through the gorgeous stained glass windows and stone openings.

share St.Georges ed two Melissa Light (2)

I found this photo from those many years ago, taken back then with a small unsophisticated point- and- shoot camera but it still evokes the stunning feeling of meeting the Numinous in the play of holy light all around us. Sharing that experience in the church and in our time together still warms me and fills me with a sense of gratitude and the sacred that shows itself in so many ways wherever we are.

This morning on FB this beautiful post…one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen on that  social media  site…popped up and called that experience back into my memory and my heart.

I hope it fills you with the same sense of awe as it does for me.

Light and Color…Luminous and Numinous.

The Celtic Poet Priest John O’Donohue has said that we need to have new names and concepts for “God”. One of his favorites is “The Divine Artist”.

Surely the masterful beauty of Light and Color is primary on the painter’s pallet of the Divine.

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

I am on FB/social media daily and interact with a number of creative people who are free-spirited and artsy: craftspersons, lovers of music and dance, writers, poets, painters,photographers,animal lovers,  yoga teachers…. and political activists in this chaotic time of challenging social priorities.

However recently this past year, showing up in my feedback stream are a number of posts (or comments) by persons of fundamentalist religious beliefs who are ardent about particular issues that they feel are dangerous, sinful, against God’s will or threatening to their biblical or dogmatic faith teachings. These passionate concerns include issues around pro-choice vs pro-life legislation, transgenderism, gay relationships, emerging women’s voices with access to public power for change, to name a few.  Let me say that altho we may differ vastly on what we think about these issues, both they and I have a common right to think what we will.

Debate that can often lead to arguments as to who holds the “Truth” are common although I try not to engage in that way, beyond stating what feels right to me…for me. What I ardently resist is the attempted legal imposition of fundamentalist  belief systems upon the rights of others to choose for themselves how to live a sane and hopefully moral life.

And I do not hold that there is only one valid spiritual path that is the one true faith for all and that that one path is a cure for all of societies ills.

As the prophetic priestly Matthew Fox often says of the world’s spiritual Wisdom traditions :  “One River, Many Wells”.

I teach a variety of courses at a local University and one of them, a course I describe as “a retreat in an academic setting” focuses on three words (plus one) from a poem by the Celtic poet John O’Donohue.  The three words are Silence, Stillness, and Solitude. I added the “plus one” as Simplicity. These words are practices that help us to discern a deep ability to access a personal  spiritual conscience leading to right and just decision making personally and in society.

A meditative exercise we do to demonstrate open-ness and respect for the many ways of finding a healthy inner guidance system without judgementalism born of fundamentalist hubris is the artistic creation of our Soul Mandalas.

Each person receives a black and white image of a complex mandala design. Everyone receives the exact same image (ONE RIVER). In quiet meditation to soft music, everyone colors this image. At the end of the exercise we display our creations and are awed at the diversity (MANY WELLS) and all and each one is beautiful, whole and unique. Yet the original pattern is identical. Each of us, given free will (and a set of colored markers) must personally create a life, a spiritual path, a Voice for what we stand for without demanding that everyone else believe as we do or denigrating others for standing up for justice from another angle. We each color in our mandalas without demanding that they are colored in the same way.

Often then a challenge comes back such as “well is MURDER a valid life choice, or GREED or LYING or Terrorism? And should we accept those? ”  Common sense and decency can answer that one. The issue here is about intolerance of diversity in how people make life choices that lead them to whom they were meant to be in the Creator’s plan for service and inspiration for others.

It is vital in today’s complex society filled with so many forceful “opinions”,  judgments and and sometimes “righteous” religious hubris, to craft honorable discernment through personal spiritual work and the humble practices of Silence, Stillness, Periodic Solitude, and Simplicity.

And it is also vital to keep the image of these multi-colored mandalas in our imagination and the wise teaching of One River, Many Wells.

OLLI Class photo

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

OLLI peace

 

 

 

 

Snowface David PICA WINTER WHITE (2)

Doesn’t it seem like Winter is endless this year? Cold, dark, windy, FOREVERRrrrrr!

I think Old Man Winter has fallen asleep in the woods and I hope he has not forgotten in his dreams that Spring is waiting impatiently to bring color back onto Earth’s canvas.

There has not been a lot of snow, but this HAS been a grey Winter in many of our spirits these days, with the intense flu season and especially the political upheavals, disarray and FROZEN icy heartless souls in power at the top in our government  right now who are stealing the lushness that belongs to all of us.

If we who believe in Spring don’t lose hope that all will dark, cold and seemingly life-less forever, if there are enough of us to soon, if not already, stir the soil, clang the pots and bells, sing songs and recount stories of our most colorful and generous dreams, then surely the green-ness, the “veriditas”, the flowers of freedom, as well as the Earth, will return in Spring.

Old Man Winter actually does know this.

As the Celtic poet Priest John O’Donohue has said:

If and when  you are in a bleak time, remember this: The secret work of winter…is..Spring”

May it be so (as it always has been….)

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

Moi hat 2

 

 

 

There are days and seasons when the world is grey. Days when the natural winter of the earth as well as the winter of our situations and spirits have almost drained us of energy and color.

And yet… hiding away from it is not the answer. Grey is a time offering its own virtues… releasing the judgemental nature of black and white, softening the edges of the ego, gently demanding patience until color begins to return to both our environment and our lives.

What always helps me in the grey times is to get out and meet it on its own terms, fully accepting and learning from it by a WALK in nature.

On this one particular day when I’d had enough of staying inside in inclement weather, I went out…bundled up of course…after the rain that was melting snow. There was mist and fog both ascending and descending, and lots of puddles.

As always, my camera was with me though I did not think I would see anything of worth or beauty in such seemingly bland landscape. But you know, it also pays to be awake to possible surprises, even in the grey times, and experience has taught me that we are never disappointed.

And there they were….everywhere. Puddle Trees!  Watery Reflections …or maybe invitations/magical portals to another dimension beneath ours if one could dive in to see what all this grey-ness was really about.

It is a worthy practice to once in a while look at things from another perspective. In the tarot there is a Major Arcana card called “The Hanging Man” depicting a man swinging upside down from the limb of a tree. He is not in trouble…just seeing things from an upside down perspective to consider things or situations in a new way.

HangedM Pica jpg

The Puddle Trees are a little like that.  A sort of fairy tale to ponder with several secret lessons to be revealed in meditation.

I was delighted with my “find”  and had fun meeting the Grey in a new (upside down) way!

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

 

What’s your mission?

The Greening Spirit

E Sept 10

Nature is very clear in how she assigns work to her beloved creatures. Beavers build dams, creating natural waterways in environments that sustain the life around its banks, wolves group themselves in dedicated family communities whose job is to cull weak and incapacitated herd animals insuring a healthy population that the land can sustain, squirrels busily bury acorns in late fall for future food but also to be the movers of oak trees further out into the environment insuring their continued survival.  What a glorious inter-connected web.

Bees have their assigned task as well, besides feeding and caring for the Queen and her baby bees. Daily they leave the nest commuting to work in beautiful fields of flowers, quite mobile and enjoying the change of scene full of color and fragrance within their workday, gathering golden nuggets of pollen to be transformed into the sweetness of honey. Yes, they work hard but they know what they are supposed…

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Garden June Sacred

Being a Taurus Sun Earthkeeper person, I have always had gardens where I live. The cycle of the seasons in a 4-climate region has captivated me since childhood…each turn full of magic, myth and mystery.

Growing up in an inner city in the northeast USA, I was not exposed to posh gardens in the concrete environment even though I lived in an apartment building on Ash Grove Place which still had a genteel air leftover from earlier times when the neighborhood was lined with ash trees before cars. The plants that came through the cracks and between the buildings in ally-ways were the wild things…dandelions, poke, yellow dock, plantains and the flowers of grasses. Of course back then, I didn’t know their names but I was called to them because they were green growing living things tucked in and around the hardness and grey of city asphalt.

There were two “garden” situations however that served our city spirits. One was the chain-link fence bordering the back parking lot behind our apartment building. In spring and summer, the tall fence was covered by the climbing vines of morning glories. The blue flowers were a never-ending delight…the tight spirals of the buds before opening, which we would pick, blowing at their now- tiny opening at the base .. and out they would flare into full flower by the power of our own mini-godlike breath. Picking the full flower itself , we would also suck at the small opening at the base of it, pulled from the vine, to taste a delightful delicate sweetness,  coming to understand what the bees were collecting while visiting its center!

The second garden was for viewing only through the openings in the chain link fence to the back lot of the next-door neighbor. A German immigrant with a thick accent, he was a crabby terrible tempered territorial old man who yelled loudly and threatened any and all kids who might attempt to climb over the fence to receive a ball gone astray in the air, landing in his green sanctuary. But he was an amazing gardener and it was like peering into the Garden of Eden or a guarded oasis in the middle of the hood between buildings. As an adult, I now understand his fierce and protective personality preserving the peace and order of his sacred garden from a pack of potentially disruptive and invasive neighborhood kids….

My own gardens from marriage, parenthood, divorce, partnership and singledom on have varied. My first planting was of Lamb’s Ears (stachys officinalis) which first captivated me in a re-created colonial apothecaries’ garden at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, CT when I was age 21. The gardens that  followed throughout my life started with herbs and their charming and healing mystique, and later, flowers and vegetables. Always always green around me.  

Veggie Garden

( One of my earlier gardens )

Several years ago, serious vision problems with early cataracts began to develop and it became impossible for me to see in sunlight and also to just see clearly at all. For the past three years, that, plus a couple of stressful, attention-stealing life situations blocked the ability to garden. I thought that was okay. But there was a flatness in my spirit as a result…unrecognizable to others…but known to my own self. A loss of some sort of energy and meaning. A loss of “veriditas”.

Now, with much excitement and gratitude, my eyesight has been restored through surgeries,  and with the renewal of vision, I could not let another year go by without tending the “Green”.  Three years of not taking care of the yarden turned it into wildness except for the front. This year, I invested in Grow Boxes, not having the time or energy to tame field and woodland and in planting them and situating them in my yard,  I realized that in not gardening the last three years, I had lost some part of SOUL….my own “Greening Spirit/Veriditas”… by not participating in the cycle of the seasons in person and not tending the plants. But now! My Soul has come back home to both the inner and outer gardens!

Garden rainy

A week or so ago, as I walked through the front border to the road, I stubbed my toe on an exposed corner of a flat rock buried under moss and matted grass. I bent over to scrape away dirt and plant matter to find a garden plaque that my partner David had placed in my new herb garden almost 20 years ago when we moved in. I had at that time also been teaching a nine-month internship in folkloric herbalism, natural foods and earth spirituality, called “The Sacred Garden”.

Garden June Sacred

How synchronistic was its surprise emergence from “under” to welcome my SOUL back home as I became a “gardener” once again.

They are BACK! My garden, My Soul !

Veriditas! from  Christine, the Greening Spirit

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Please visit my other blogs!

http://pianomistress.wordpress.com

http://sensuoussoupsandsuppers.wordpress.com

http://wordmagicandthelawofattraction.com

 

 

 

 

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