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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 [...]
If a woman, of any race, feels called to follow a life of God, then maybe she will be the next Pope, Buddha, Prophet, or Messiah . . . as she lovingly tends to all in her care and gently nurtures Mother Earth. Arundhati Roy, author of The God of Small Things, says, "Another world is not only possible, she is on her way! On a quiet day, if you listen carefully, you can hear her breathing."
"Who are your role models? Whose life do you admire? Who reminds you to stay strong when you feel discouraged or feel like giving up? Who models the values and life choices that inspire you to be your absolute best self? Who helps you have the courage to voice your deepest desires and heartfelt dreams?"
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we sent an outpouring of love to our LGBTQ youth? What if each one of us took five minutes to write a note to the youth at IYG to let them know how much they are loved? And if so moved, we could also include a check to show our care and support. Can you imagine how amazing it would feel opening all those letters and knowing that your community loved you—more than you knew? Perhaps one such small act will save a life at risk.
Listen closely, quietly. Place your hand over your heart. Can you feel your heart beating? Here is what the heart knows: Music, laughter, family, love, dancing.
Wouldn’t it be a wonderful gift this holiday season to invite someone to a meal or celebration—only with the intention of wanting to better understand that person’s religious or spiritual practices? Or maybe you could share your beliefs with someone outside your traditional religious or spiritual group by inviting a friend (or relative) to attend a Winter Solstice celebration, Hanukah ceremony, Kwanzaa feast, Christmas Eve service, Buddhist meditation gathering, Hopi & Zuni Soyala Festival, and so on. Perhaps, we can learn from one another how to pray, sing, dance, chant, and celebrate, together.
Luckily, I’ve had more than one person remind me that raising my daughters is a spiritual journey—and certainly contributes to the world. I don’t need to climb a mountain or live with monks. I need to do the best I can with the people I love. In fact, most spiritual leaders remind us to look within for that which we seek and to put it into practice in our daily lives. It isn’t always easy. Yet, it can be the most important work we do.
Perhaps in 2013 we can find ways to bring peace into our lives and create more peace in the larger world community. To do so, we might have to examine our emotional triggers. We may have to understand the conflict and anger within ourselves. We might need to listen to the suffering we have caused others. We may have to share our own sources of suffering. “Practicing nonviolence is first of all to become nonviolence. … This applies to problems of the family as well as to problems of society.”
In problem solving, I meditate and ask for spiritual guidance. To increase my knowledge, I seek out people who can teach me ways to live so that I can make better choices. In my writing, I voice my support for government and industry leaders who employ alternative, lasting, and positive solutions that safeguard this beautiful and abundant planet: our home.
Yet, if you can find your calm center, with Spirit, you discover strength within—even during raging storms. That inner strength will guide you. It might mean asking for help from your friends. It might mean that you keep going, despite hardships, knowing more will be revealed. It might mean setting down your own anger, sorrows, or fears.
Reflecting back over the years, I find myself feeling tremendous gratitude for all the teachers who helped shape my daughter’s life. She’s had access to books, art supplies, science fairs, math competitions, Spanish instructions, history lessons, outreach projects, and, more importantly, a vibrant educational community. Throughout her time in Indiana public schools, I have been overwhelmingly impressed by the dedication, skill, and quality of the teachers she has been fortunate to experience. Under their tutelage, guidance, and care, she has thrived.
At a recent event, Jill Bolte Taylor (author, Stroke of Insight), Sandy Sasso (Rabbi), and Carrie Newcomer (folk singer), shared their stories. They joined the stage in an effort to build community and embark on a public discourse regarding the human spirit. They asked, “What do we want our world to be?” and “How do we love the stranger, not just our neighbor?” and “If not now, when?” They spoke of embracing cultural, religious, political, gender, ethnic, and racial differences. How do we do so? We can start by telling our stories. We can listen to the stories of others. We can recognize the collective whole.
Today, I am going to set aside my list of worries and fears. I am going to slow down, breathe, and delight in this day. I am going to devote today to imagining: What do I want for my life? What do I want for my family? What do I want for Mother Earth and her creatures? What is my vision for a better world?
If we look back to the work of Jesus, in his time, women were the victims of disparate and cruel treatment. Individuals who were poor and individuals who suffered illnesses fared no better in those social structures. Jesus stood up for those who were oppressed. During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke out for the freedom (and legal rights) of all people. Gandhi likewise spoke for the imperative right to equality for all who were considered outcasts. These men risked their lives on behalf of others . . . in service to justice and fairness. God does not discriminate is the message they carried. God is love.