Holding Hope

I wrote this on my Facebook Page on Doctor Martin Luther King’s Jr. Birthday.  I wanted to share it here as well:

One thought before I sign off for a while to focus. I posted some quotes today on the blog, the favorite is the last one:

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”

That is of course from Dr. Martin Luther King. I see a lot of people not standing up for things because of lost hope. Facebook is a hard place to do this, because the best way to speak to anyone is from where they are at, and our Facebook friends are coming from many different places in their lives. And then I have seen many people respond to others by writing: “How can you think about that when there is THIS?” Which really isn’t fair, we are all called to champion for different causes. (Some people’s cause is raising their children or taking care of an aging parent, and that is enough. They are huge tasks.) We can’t each champion for everything, and if we try, we have debilitating anxiety or grow despondent.

But there is also lost hope. Many people see so many things wrong in the world that they get bogged down by all of it and lose hope. We must not lose hope. Racism should be over by now. It’s not. Let’s not give up. Powered by Hope we can each do our part. Humanity works together as a whole. You alone don’t have to do everything. Please remember to look at the good in the world too, to do your part, and not to lose hope. We can make a difference, and we have. Let’s keep going.

May God bless your day.

Inspiration

It is Martin Luther King Jr’s Birthday!  Here are some of my favorite quotes of his. I hope they resonate with and inspire you, and please pay special attention to the last one. Don’t give up. There is hope. 

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great

Let no man pull you low enough to hate him.

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.

 

 

 

 

Doing The Thing

Happy Sunday! I hope that everyone is taking some rest today. Yesterday, I realized I wasn’t getting everything done I wanted to do, and was causing me some anxiety.  So I made a checklist. I really did. 

For me, nothing takes away the anxiety about something that needs to be done like actually doing the thing. And if I can’t do the thing, scheduling the thing is second best.  If I know when I will do it, I can worry about it then, not now.

Why talk about this on a Sunday?  I will get to that in a moment.  For now, I am simply employing suspense to keep you reading.

Now everyone has their own version of a list, but I will show you what I did. I made a checklist of a week’s worth of things.  Here is a generic example.

Daily Checklist2

The idea is to do each thing for about 15 minutes a day, but you can choose your own time unit. If I do the thing for more than one unit, I can cross out another day or days and not do it those days. This example is from a Saturday, but you see I’ve crossed things out for other days in the week already. BTW: To me, personal business means dealing with student loans, insurance, paying bills, getting the car checked, etc. If I do something every day, I should come out ahead.

So why indeed talk about this on a Sunday?  Because you get a day of rest! How lovely will you feel when, in your Sunday column, you just check everything off because it’s a freebie! Victory!

Also, notice I included having fun.  Sometimes we need to actually plan to do those things that keep us balanced.

This is just an example of course. You may choose a different style or just a dry erase board. But If I, who am generally listless, can make a list, you can too! This week’s sheet is in my purse as you read this, and I’ve actually checked things off.  It looks promising.  I will keep you posted in the comments of this post, feel free to do the same!

May God bless your day.

 

 

Following

Assisi hermitage
Eremo delle Carceri Assisi

I was telling a friend once that the best times in my life are when I have, throughout the day, said “God, what next?” And simply followed.  She told me later that she tried it and it was amazing. Beautiful things unfolded throughout the day.

I am not sure why I forget to be doing this every day of my life.  There has been such peace when I have done it and I’ve been led to wonderful experiences I didn’t expect.

My favorite and most memorable experience of this was when I was studying in Rome.  I had a difficult start; I was very lonely. But somehow I was able to surrender this to God for a time (I really don’t know how) and say “What next?”  Beautiful spiritual experiences ensued, and over the course of my three months two friends came to visit, another two friends were in Europe and we met up, I had some wonderful times with the people I was with and got to know them better, and my brother was there at that time and I saw him every week. For someone who is not rich and whose friends aren’t rich, this isn’t something that happens. I don’t go across the world and see five people I know who didn’t go with me. But it did.

This isn’t something magic, but it is something beautiful. “God, I give you my day. Protect me and guide me.” And throughout the day: “What next?”

For One, For Many

A friend wrote this quote to me: “You hold unconditional space for one, you hold it for the many…” (from Willow Way).

And I think it points to something. When we really loblack-and-white-lights-sun-ray-of-sunshineve one person, we love others besides. Our manner is better, our patience is better, and we are more likely to give others the benefit of the doubt. This also happens in other ways that we don’t understand. We love; it radiates out somehow. God uses it to help the world somehow . . . we don’t quite know how it happens, only that it does.

A mom who only has time to serve her children is actually making more of a difference in the world than she knows. That is a big job, and it is enough. But also, whether she sees it or not, what she is doing is having a larger effect. It may be in ways we never see, but it is there.

The other day I also wrote about how we sometimes don’t know if we are acting in a healthy way in relationships. This quote also speaks to that for me.  When we really love someone, it does radiate out. It helps us love others better in the ways mentioned above and more. When our relationship is controlling or selfish, often it closes in on itself.

So as we move deeper into real love, love that is truly giving and in which we love our own selves too, we can know that it will radiate. And that is a beautiful thing.

May God bless your day.

 

 

Songs of the Soul

When I was a child, only twelve, I was deeply moved by a song.  I didn’t know why I loved this particular song.  I didn’t know what it said to me. But it touched a longing deep in my heart that I didn’t know was there, and it touched a piece of the fulfillment of that longing.  The song was The Search is Over from Survivor.  If you’d like the experience I had at twelve, you can look away and just listen. I will post both the music video and a lyric video below.

Then, when I was nineteen, I was captivated by a different song with a similar theme. It was Save the Best for Last Sung by Vanessa Williams.

What was it that moved me about these songs?  I won’t know everything. There is something in each of us that is deeper than we know, and we are always journeying, always exploring, always pondering, seeking, and letting truth seep in.  But Save the Best for Last has this line: “Sometimes the very thing we’re looking for is the one thing we can’t see.”  And The Search is Over has these lines: “I was always reaching, you were just a girl I knew. I took for granted the friend I had in you,” and “Love was right before my eyes.”

Both songs are about love that was always there while the person was looking for something else. One is from the point of view of the person waiting, and one is from the point of view if the person realizing.  But there isn’t a sense of shame of not noticing here. There is a sense of gratitude for the realization. I challenge you today to take this to heart, and to listen to these songs with a deeper sense. Is there something beautiful beyond what you’ve been noticing? I believe in unconditional love all around us, and in something and someone leading us to the fulfillment of all desire. For me, it is something that I ignore way too much, that Presence which reaches out to me in amazing love.

What might this be saying to you? If there is someone or some blessing you aren’t seeing, you don’t have to wrack your brain trying to see it.  Just write or speak the things you are thankful for, and it will come.  Another line from the Vanessa Williams song is this: “It’s not the way I hoped or how I planned, but somehow it’s enough.” Good things may not be the ones you wanted, and it’s OK to want them.  But good things are here.

May God bless your day.

Toward Love

CousinhugI had an experience once where I was lonely and I needed a friend. I did everything I could to hint around. “I suppose you are busy,” I said.  “You must be doing something interesting,” I said.  Of course we can see that the fact that I needed a friend was obvious by my statements.  It was not only not obvious, it was every so slightly manipulative with an ever so slight guilt trip in there.

Finally I told a friend that I needed a friend. “If you need me, of course I’m here!” said the friend with much affection. And communication commenced, and it was lovely.

Sometimes as people we get afraid of asking for what we need. We don’t want to bother someone.  It used to be that people were afraid of  such things as “emotional dependency” and “codependency” and being “clingy.” Actually, I think we still are.

But all these things are based on fear.  Humans have been helping each other since we came on the scene.  It is how we create societies. It is how we  get shelter and food and clothing.  And some other species do it too. If one needs a friend and asks, or if one needs some lovin’ from one’s spouse and asks, what is that going to do? If the person is trustworthy and if you have a relationship, It will strengthen the relationship; it will deepen it as trust is given.

If we ask in freedom and are not trying to manipulate out of fear, we are moving toward love. Giving and receiving freely is what relationships are about.  So go forth, and don’t be afraid. You know how you wish that one person would confide in you? Others feel the same way.

May God bless your day.

 

P.S. If you are worried that someone is busy, just let them know that anytime is fine. 🙂

To Be in Awe: Little Things

The world is full of beauty and marvels. There are musical frequencies that speak to the soul; there is the Fibonacci mathematical sequence: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 11, etc. where each number is the sum of the two numbers before it that, when graphed, shows a shape we see in so many places in nature. espiral_de_semillas_de_girasolfibonacci_spiral

There is more. Look at the swirl of the galaxy.  Look a at the shape of the end of a pine cone,  cut a cabbage cactushead in half, and notice a pattern you may not have ever seen before.

Then there are gemstones and crystals; who would have thought that such things would even exist? The structures of crystals are based on math; these are fascinating things to ponder or you canNautilus simply gaze on them.  See crystals here.

There is something to letting oneself notice amazing and beautiful things and letting oneself simply be in awe.  May you experience this kind of joy today.

May God bless your day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Thing

Several months ago I’d gotten a bit frantic. Why? There were various people telling me how important it was to say this prayer, and to say that prayer, and to say the other prayer, or maybe it was just the voice in my head.  I also felt frantic about how many people needed prayer, and trying to  think of and concentrate on them all.

I went to see a spiritual director who told me, “all that is required is that you pray. Pick one thing.”  My heart relaxed. And the truth is that I began to pray more than usual, because I’d be so overwhelmed by possibilities I hadn’t really been doing anything. Now I was focused on one thing, yet ended up praying freely throughout the day without the frantic sense of “must.”

Also, he told me that I can offer up those I’m praying for before my time of prayer and then focus on the connection with God. I can be in the Presence of Christ. I don’t have to be thinking and worrying about them. That wasn’t what was going to make the prayer. Connect. They will be blessed through it. But it was important that I meditate on that Presence.  This added a great deal of peace to my life.

One thing. This may not be the answer for everyone. All people are different. But most of the people I know are overwhelmed by just how much there is to do.

If we look at the world too much we can easily become overwhelmed by all the ways to help. Some people are so frantic at the possibilities that they don’t do anything. Honestly, in this culture of global awareness, I think most of us are. We are running around with brains created for tribes and villages, and we are in an information age. We are overwhelmed. Many people are so overwhelmed that we are frozen.

What if we each did just one thing?  We could choose to do a little thing per day. We could choose to do a bigger thing per week or month,  or what if we had one area of service in our lives that we are devoted to?  This depends on the life and conscience of each of us.  But ponder this for yourself. What is my one thing? Perhaps you will find that you are making a difference more than you were before, yet you are more at peace.

May God bless your day.

 

 

Life Acceptance One: Pondering

Today I have something different for you; it is an exercise such as we might do at a retreat. It doesn’t take much time. If you’d like to join, here are the instructions. Feel free to amend them however you like.

  1. Pick one of the quotes below — something that sticks out to you.
  2. Ponder it. Just let it soak in for a while.
  3. Ask, what is it saying to you?  It is OK if there is a part of it that you don’t agree with.
  4. Ask, how is this connected with acceptance?
  5. Say the prayer at the end.
  6. Feel free to share if you like, in the comments, your thoughts and how it is connected with acceptance. I will be doing this with mine.

QUOTES 

I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.    Jimmy Dean

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.   Joseph Campbell

There is no royal road to anything, one thing at a time, all things in succession. That which grows fast, withers as rapidly. That which grows slowly, endures.  Josiah Gilbert Holland

Letting go doesn’t mean that you don’t care about someone anymore. It’s just realizing that the only person you really have control over is yourself.
Deborah Reber, Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul

…to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.
Ellen Bass

Change your thoughts and you change your world.    Norman Vincent Peale

I am my own biggest critic. Before anyone else has criticized me, I have already criticized myself. But for the rest of my life, I am going to be with me and I don’t want to spend my life with someone who is always critical. So I am going to stop being my own critic. It’s high time that I accept all the great things about me.    C. JoyBell C.

You cannot be fair to others without first being fair to yourself.
Know that a well-honed sense of justice is a measure of personal experience, and all experience is a measure of self.
Know that the highest expression of justice is mercy.
Thus, as the supreme judge in your own court, you must have compassion for yourself. Otherwise, cede your gavel.
Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

Having a religion doesn’t make a person love or not love others. It doesn’t make a person accept or not accept others. It doesn’t make a person befriend or not befriend others. Being without a religion doesn’t make somebody do or be any of that either. No, what makes somebody love, accept, and befriend their fellow man is letting go of a need to be better than others. Nothing else.  Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.  Attributed to St. Francis of Assisi

PRAYER 

Serenity Prayer
Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen.