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Home > Blog Index > The Long Journey To Now This month I'm posting on the Spirit and Place Festival blog. Here's a bit of the post, and a link to the rest. "Nothing is more precious than being in the present moment. Fully alive, fully aware." --Thích Nhat [...]
People who are doing their best to get up, go out, and face the world each morning—despite loss—are engaging in tremendous acts of courage. Courage is not the mighty sword that slays an enemy. Real courage is being honest and completely vulnerable. It’s the quiet voice that whispers, “I need help” or “I’m at a loss here.” It’s living an authentic life despite the clamor of those bent on destroying what is unique, creative, and beautiful. It’s embracing life in the moment. Happy moments. Sad moments. Angry moments. Fearful moments. It requires courage to say out loud, “Our marriage has had rocky times” or “I’m feeling lonely today.” It’s humbling to admit, “I don’t know why that happened.” Or acknowledging, “I don’t know what happens after I die,” or “I don’t know the answers for life’s deep mystical questions.”
Married in June, Johnna and Tay Tidwell are young newlyweds—though their wedding didn’t happen exactly the way they envisioned. When they became engaged, their original plan was to wed in Canada, where same-sex marriages are legal. The wedding plans changed when an Indiana federal judge struck down the ban on same-sex marriages on June 25, 2014. Johnna and Tay married the next day at the clerk's office, shortly before a judicial stay halted any further marriage licenses for same-sex couples in Indiana
Forgiveness isn’t easy to write about or to practice in our lives. When the church community I loved broke apart (not once but twice) over disputes regarding two different ministers, the issue of forgiveness was raised by those who opted to leave. I wasn’t able to tackle the topic then. Even now, two years later, I find forgiveness an unsettling area of discussion. I can’t point to one simple solution or easy fix, especially when no one admits fault or wrongdoing yet many people feel deeply hurt.
Children easily say, “I love you”—to people, horses, dogs, cats, trees, and hamsters. If they fall and get bruised, they keep going. A skinned knee calls for a hug, a kiss, and a Band-Aid, and then they are off and running again. Children don’t stop playing because they once fell. They splash in the water, climb trees, and ride bicycles with gleeful abandon. And sometimes, while lying in bed, they wonder why grown-ups fight so much or why grown-ups get so mad all the time or why grown-ups argue about things that make no sense. Rather than teaching our children, perhaps we can spend some time, today, learning what children most want us to know: How to be happy, in this moment.
Storms—physical and emotional—can bring pain and suffering (and are fundamentally disturbing because they bring CHANGE). Yet, storms can also bring necessary growth and unexpected gifts, along with many blessings.
We are birthing a new world . . . because that is what women do. We birth ideas, children, and a vision of what may be.
That insight hit me as I was standing near friends and the House voted to delete one sentence banning civil unions from the proposed amendment. It was an important partial victory for those in attendance. The next thing that happened surprised me. A close friend began sobbing, a body-racking, heart-felt release welling up and pouring out from a place deep within. It was humbling to witness her vulnerability and raw, uncensored human emotion. It was as though she had been holding her breath, sealed off tight in a protected vault somewhere, and someone had finally told her it was safe to breathe.
We all have to do the work of honoring and healing the vulnerable, tender places in our hearts. But the good news is that as we do so, more space inside opens up. And that is the space to fill with moments that bring you alive and fill you with joy.
While honoring and celebrating the birth of Jesus, some people also thoughtfully reflect upon the message of a man whose life was taken because he spoke out publically for those who were suffering. His message remains one of love. For others, the Solstice celebrations, Hanukkah traditions, and arrival of a New Year bring enormous gratitude for all the gifts received throughout the year, as well as thoughtful decisions on how to be of service to those who are less fortunate.
“Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.” —Desiderata by Max Ehrmann “When you have peace within, real peace with others is possible.” —Thich Nha't Hanh With all the world’s incessant noise and chatter, it can sometimes seem nearly impossible to find calm moments of peace. That loss of quiet reflection can feel even more pronounced in our current age of information overload via computers, smart phones, and other mobile devices. A calm inner state may be especially difficult to attain during the holiday season if you’re already feeling added stress or profound sadness. Peaceful moments, however, are available. Like the sun on a stormy, overcast day, we may not feel its presence. Yet, peace is always there. How do we find calm in times of chaos? Where is it during family strife or heartache? I’m one of those people who does better with lots of sunshine and not quite as well in the winter months. Living in the Midwest means I have to be much more intentional during the long dark days of winter to practice self-care, to slow down and rest, and to find ways to keep myself warm, cozy, and content. The same is true of my spiritual well being during stressful times. If I continually subject myself to an influx of negative information from multiple sources, I start to feel depleted. Taking time to fill my inner well—during the winter months, during the holidays, and during a crisis—is critical to my sense of calm. Here is what helps me: Stepping back. Breathing. Time alone in silence or prayer. Soft music. A walk. Inspirational readings. A catnap. Three deep breaths. Meditation. Writing. Time in nature. A cup of hot tea. Another deep breath. Peaceful moments are here. We may need to make small daily choices to seek them out. But when we do, it’s like walking through a gate. On the other side of all the mental churning and emotional upheaval, there is a place you can go for a moment of respite. That calm space is available to you whenever you need it—behind whatever else may be going on in your life—because it is within.
When you strip away all the nonsense of political affiliations, religion, money, skin color, etcetera, we are all humans. Just human beings with personal struggles trying to find our way in a world full of poisons flying at us from all fronts. So who am I to discriminate? I hope to never forget where I came from. My mission became free organic food for anyone who wants it. We feel grateful and so fortunate to be able to help improve the health of people in our community. We grow enough for everyone.
It does not matter if you are young or old. It does not matter if your ethnic heritage is unfamiliar to me. It does not matter if your political beliefs surprise or confuse me. If you need love, we will show you that we care for you. Our earth home, with magnificent trees, flowing waters, birds, animals, sun, wind, and sky, is the gift that we share—in harmony, in peace, in compassion, and in love.
There’s nothing wrong with comfort and security. There’s also nothing wrong with pursuing passions and dreams—despite fears. Comfort and security can come in the form of confidence that if you fail, you are capable of getting up and trying again. Comfort and security can come from faith that Spirit will see you through. Comfort and security can come from friends who encourage you to put your gifts out in the world. The real risk is not losing comfort and security. The real risk is not trying at all.
How do we raise issues of injustice and prejudice, while remaining respectful and loving toward those who are of a different race, class, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation? How do we live so that at the end of the day, we feel good in our hearts about our actions? Are we brave enough to stand by those who are treated unfairly, when it is not easy to do so?
What brings you that awe-inspiring universal connection to something greater than yourself? What makes you truly happy? What passion helps you feel most fully alive? Where do you find Spirit? Doing what you love doesn’t require tangible worldly results that are only measured in numbers. It’s difficult to define or measure intangibles like compassion, joy, mindfulness, happiness, and love. But if you come alive, then that is enough.
Our lives are worthy, not because of what we do. And certainly not because of what we own, where we live, or how we look. Each of our personal stories—regardless of the details—is sacred. They are sacred because we are spiritual beings. As Marge Piercy once shared in a poetry workshop that took place right after 9/11, art is how we give shape and meaning to our lives. Sharing our stories (and other creative expressions) is also how we connect with one another.
There are people struggling with the ills of poverty, outlandishly expensive (but necessary) medical procedures, destruction of beautiful, natural environments, and all the challenges and loss that life brings to each of us. There are also millions of people joining together to find new solutions to age-old problems. In Buddhism we are taught, “Do not turn away from suffering. Learn to see others through the eyes of compassion. Create a better future for our children.”
For me, taking some time for self-care, quietly breathing, and doing something that nourishes the soul allows space for inner calm to surface. Gratitude also helps. Whatever negative thing may be gnawing at your serenity, find one thing in your life for which you can say “thank you.” My gratitude today is for my circle of friends. When times get tough and the night seems long, they are like Carrie Newcomer’s Three Women song, “Here's to the women who bind the wounds tight … And here’s to the strength in women, holding hands.”
Home > Blog Index > A Vision for Our Planet “We must teach our children a new way, in order to ensure that future generations will experience the beauty and abundance the Creator has given to us.” —Grandmothers Counsel the World, by Carol Schaefer Close your eyes and take a [...]