Just a reminder what Christmas is all about. Take some time out from your busy day, grab the partner and your kids and watch a couple of videos that will warm your heart and make you smile. Then look at your loved ones, give them a hug, and remember that none of the material stuff will matter to anyone down the road. The only thing we remember is whether or not we were loved and the time we spend with one another says that louder than anything else.
Sometimes all it takes is a different perspective. This is special.
When I got married, many of my peers had an expectation of a good life ahead of them. It never occurred to any of us that we would not have houses and cars, big TV’s and wonderful vacations. Of course we would. Our parents had those things and so would we. Every generation heads off into the world with expectations that include what their parents had. We all failed to realize our parents worked many years for those things and it was ridiculous for us to feel entitled to them without also working and saving. Life might have taught us some valuable lessons in reality but my generation embraced credit and now a personal debt is an expectation. No-one waits for anything anymore. Immediate gratification was something we taught our kids with every purchase we made. So now, we have grandkids who, like us, feel they have a right to everything their parents have, and their disconnect with the hard work that provides those things is almost complete. Enter the sense of entitlement we all complain about today. Continue reading
The Easter message is that we can be forgiven. It is that we can change. We can take our lives, and all the mistakes, and all our troubles, and choose a different path. We can walk a path that is blessed with the wisdom of the lessons learned, and a better knowing of who we are.
This is how we heal the world. Forgiveness is not just for us, it is not just a gift given by a man who died on the cross . . . it is a gift we must extend to others. Our forgiveness. We must learn to say, “I forgive you” and to make a space in our lives for people to choose a different path. We need to support their struggles to learn and grow. We have to let go of our idea of who they were, and encourage their journey.
All around us are people who have lost their way, who would give anything to have a second chance, to start over with a different ending. People suffer their losses of loved ones, of jobs, of self and they suffer alone, often further burdened by the judgments of the people who surround them. We label people with their mistakes. There goes the “drug addict,” the “drunk,” the “thief,” the “loser.” She had a baby before she was married. His wife left him. He got fired. Years pass, and still, we hold onto those labels, imprisoning people in their mistakes.
Had their mistakes not been made public, they would be safe and secure with everyone else, judging those whose sins are pinned to them in bright scarlet for all to see. Continue reading
Here is my heart. I am reaffirming that I intend to invest it into my life and the people that I interact with. It is the best part of who I am. When I can put aside all the noise that distracts me from listening, it speaks to me of truth and hope. It always leads me to the light.
Someday, I hope to be worthy of the heart that I was given, that I might be able to live a life totally devoted to its well-being, but for now, all I can do is to reaffirm that I am working on it. I care about the world around me. I care about the people in it. I care about my friends and family. I care about you.
Someday we may live in a world where everyone lives by the wisdom of their hearts. We might care for one another, support on another, encourage each person to be and do everything they possibly can. It will probably not happen in my lifetime but I do know, unless I do my part here and now, it will never happen.
So, I intend to love. I intend to love even when I am faced with a world filled with hate. I intend to love the unloved and to lift them up in any way I can. I will continue to allow myself to feel love, even when it is so intense that it moves me to tears. Sometimes that experience is one of beauty, but often it is one of great pain. When I see others suffer, I feel so deeply that I know that it is love building a bridge between their experience and mine. There is no separation when love is the bridge that connects us all. We should never be afraid to open ourselves to truly understand other people’s lives. Without that bridge, we are all just weapons that will eventually affect war on each other.
So here is my Valentine’s heart. It is not the love of romance. It is a love more abiding. It is love with connection, with compassion, and with healing. I want to love the world. I want to feel that I am loved in return. I want this for all of us.
In the light of all that is happening in the world, I find myself sitting alone. Off in the distance, I can hear the arguing. I am shocked at the raw emotions of people stripped back of all social pretence. We are an incredibly ugly, unkind people when we are wounded and backed into a corner.
I think I expected more. I expected better.
I am trying to hold on to my belief that this too has meaning that will find its way to a better place and it is just my smallness that cannot see. Forgive me for that.
Instead, I offer a few findings that speak to my heart, and perhaps will do the same for yours. Continue reading
None of us have The Answer. Sometimes I think all we can do is take a page out of Alcoholics Anonymous. We take responsibility for our part in creating this world and the mess it is in. We realize that we cannot focus on the totality of the problem for a million reasons. But what we do focus on is ourselves, and this moment and today.
What if TODAY we did not commit any unkind acts? What if TODAY we did one good thing? What if TODAY we took the time to tell our loved ones that they matter? What if TODAY we made time for what matters and let the superficial deal with itself for just a little bit?
You eat an elephant one bite at a time. Addicts do one day at a time. We can break it down to even one act a day, and slowly, maybe in between the time we brush our teeth and the time we go to bed . . . the world will begin to heal. People will let go of their hate. Our hearts will be filled with what matters and we will let go of the cheap substitutes of money and things that never seem to last or fill that huge hole in all of us. We all, just want to be loved and needed. We all just want to love and to help. No-one has to have The Answer. We don’t even have to answer anything. We just have to be willing to begin. Reach out. Do what you can. Find someone to love. Begin. We can heal the broken, wounded lives that exist all around us, one act at a time.
The family meal used to be an institution. Whatever was going on in your life, everyone was expected to check in for meal time.
It was a way to count heads, to make sure that everyone was safe, and to find out what had happened in our day. My grandparents used it as a time to teach and to talk about life. My brother often used it as an opportunity to tell everything I had done that might mean I was in trouble and he would get to choose the TV programming for the evening. I might have taken that same opportunity myself sometimes.
But it was more than that. Meals were connections and social times with other people. As children, we were always coached on our manners before people got there and given any special instructions that were required. It might be that our visiting Aunt had lost her leg to polio and walked with a limp. Under no circumstances were we to ask about it, or stare, or ask anything about whether she had any children, which she didn’t. I remember listening intently as my grandmother explained that she thought it would be too hard for a child to grow up with a mother who was missing a leg, and she did not want to embarrass them. I wanted to run up and hug my aunt and love her enough in that one evening to make up for all the children she should have had because she was such a beautiful lady. I knew any child would have loved her because I loved her. I couldn’t do that so instead, I was on my best behaviour. Continue reading
They say that every baby cries when it hears the cries of another child. I was born crying. I have always wept for others, even those who are not crying. I hear their inner cries. I see their tears, even when their faces are frozen in perfect smiles and they are repeating the mantra, they were given with the promise if they just believe it enough, they have the power to make it happen . . . “I am fine.”
Except they aren’t.
And some things cannot be wished away or overcome with pretty words meant to hide the dirt they are being spoken over.
We understand when someone has a car accident and loses their limb that it is a forever deal. We accept physical damage. If you are going to drive a car after you drink, you could have an accident, and if you have an accident you could cause damage to your body or another’s. Sometimes that damage is permanent and nobody would stand and tell you that if you put a picture of a healthy arm on the fridge, and repeat “My arm is healthy, perfect, and functioning now,” 21 times each day . . . you will be rewarded with a new arm.
If they did, we would call them insane. Continue reading
When I was a child I remember the first world issue I really took to heart which was the starving children in Bangladesh. I remember crying myself to sleep and writing poetry because the idea that children were starving to death instead of running and playing like I was – was so hard and unfair.
It was a concept, not a reality for me. I looked at pictures, separated with a glossy coolness between the reality and my world that allowed me a disconnect despite the tears. They were “over there” and I was safely “here.”
As I have grown, I have come to understand there are many countries where the mortality rate among children is high, due to violence and poverty. I have grown to understand that there are countries where many young people are killed due to violence and that there are countries where the young are expected to die, irrelevant consequences in ancient and financial tug of wars for religion and power, drugs and sex. Despite my tears and my concerns or even my actions on “behalf of” I am still protected by the label “third world countries” and my own privilege. Continue reading