We never become vulnerable until something happens to hurt us. We then close ourselves off to anything that might open us to the risk of that hurt again. We close the door on vulnerability and begin to push ourselves toward a perceived perfection. Where have our ideals gone? Western culture with its political and religious corruption have taken them from us. But no society can endure without a sense of honor and dignity in its set of ideals. I believe it was Thomas Jefferson who said that we needed a Revolution every few hundred years or we will destroy each other with tyranny.
In our personal lives, a sense of personal ideals encourages us to discover what is best in us. We might reach beyond our perceived limitations and find something new and surprising emerging. We can awaken a passion that brings out the best in us and we know it. Suddenly the dream of excellence can become a reality.
John O’Donohue says, “The beauty of the true ideal is its hospitality towards woundedness, weakness, failure and fall-back….people can allow themselves no ease until they come close to the cleansed domain of perfection….This puts them under a great strain.”
We all work so hard trying to appreciate, accept and forgive others. Once we learn how to do that for ourselves, we can understand our essence and the beauty of the flaw.
I have read, and I believe, that God works by order, by law, and by method. He has shown us how to pray – think about the “Our Father.” But He has also shown us that as important as prayer is, we cannot drag down His divine operations to the level of our desires. Prayer is a method that gives us the ability to lift our will into correspondence with God’s methods.
God has stores of blessings intended for us. But we must earnestly correspond with Him by prayer in order to receive them. I believe that prayer is as important and as necessary as a job that pays for our earthly needs.
Praying fails because we have already prepared and told God what we want. The hard part is adjusting our desires and our will to His will. So before you start to pray, ask God to help you adjust your will to His will. Tell Him you want to fully surrender to Him and you need His help to do so.
Remember to delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.
“Unhappily, the extensive moralizing within the ecological movement has given the public a false impression that they are being asked to make a sacrifice–to show more responsibility, more concern, and a nicer moral standard. But all of that would flow naturally and easily if the self were widened and deepened so that protection of nature was felt and perceived as protection of our very selves.” Arne Ness, Ecology Philosopher
Grim determination or persuasion cannot serve our world, nor can preaching too much. We probably can only save the earth–did you hear me?–SAVE THE EARTH–by loving it enough. We become what we love. Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so he is.” We change our perceptions, and we change our world.
Look into this world seven generations from now. What would you want to leave your future generations? I want to leave them the powers of love and connectedness, and an earth that is clean and green and peaceful. We need to start now, right this very moment.
May the Universe bless and keep you as we all walk this very difficult path.
This is a story about Francis of Assisi. Francis was a rich young man, with high spirit. But he was not happy. He felt his life was incomplete, and he didn’t know how to fix it. One day he was out riding and came upon a leper. Dirty, loathsome, and very sick, he looked up at Francis and ask if he had something to eat – anything – since he felt so weak. Almost immediately something came over Francis. He left his horse, went to the man and lifted him, encircling him against his body, hugging him tightly. He then looked into the man’s face and saw the face of Christ.
My dear friends, you probably will not remember who won this Super Bowl five years from now, but I’ll bet you remember a teacher who gave you her or his time and loving interest and made you feel good forty years ago.
This is a story about small things – not big things. We need to accumulate lots of loving little small things because these are the things that make a difference. The large HD TV will not last forever. But a loving gesture given to one who needs it will last forever.
Recently a dear friend died. She was quiet, sweet and always had a smile on her face. She taught Sunday School to 4th and 5th graders for 60 years at the First Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. She never made much noise about what she did or who she helped. But you would have been amazed to see the number of her students who showed up at her Memorial Service.
We are all connected by the great mystery of love. What is our destiny? We are supposed to take care of the small business that is in front of us and treat it gently.
I recently read a short story about author, Taylor Caldwell. For those of you who are younger than I and do not know who she is, I will give you a short bio. She was born in 1900 in the UK. She began writing very early in her life and saved literally hundreds of manuscripts. Her first book Dynasty of Death hit the New York Times best seller list and she was off and running, churning out at least a book a year through her hey days in the 1950′s and 1960′s. She wrote historical romances and several books with religious themes.
Taylor Caldwell married four times. She had two daughters by different husbands, and one daughter committed suicide. She wrote for the John Birch Society, studied reincarnation, and for a time, believed in it. She was estranged from her children saying that some women were not meant to be “Mommies.” At various times she professed to be Catholic, Protestant, and Agnostic. She had a temper and a great talent.
Now here is the story. Her second husband was a man named Marcus Reback. She was married to Marcus for 40 years until his death. It was the happiest and longest of her marriages. Marcus collaborated with her on many of her books.
It has been said that when Marcus died, Taylor was overcome with grief. His was a protracted illness and being prepared for it, Taylor pleaded with her husband to send her a sign if there is life on the other side and asked him to promise to do so. He promised, and minutes later passed away.
The morning after his passing, Taylor went to her garden as she always did. She cried out to her husband that her grief was so strong and her pain so wrenching that she feared she would die if she did not get a sign from him. Her gaze swept over an area where an unproductive rosemary bush had lingered for thirty years, inexplicably now in full bloom. She whispered a fervent ‘thank you’ to her husband. She told interviewers later that rosemary means remembrance.
Given Taylor’s proclivity for imagination and great press, I cannot say this is a true story, although it was presented as such. However, I do know that love pulsates with an energy that cannot be stopped. God is always there whispering to us, “Awaken from your stupor to the love that is eternal.”
My husband and I recently went to see the movie, August, Osage County. This story was a play and made into a movie. It won many theatre awards and is part of the Oscar buzz. Now I won’t give you any spoilers except to say that it was absolutely not a comedy. This movie gave family dysfunction a new meaning. The main character, played by Meryl Streep, had no redeeming values at all. When the movie was over, those in the theatre were stunned. We could not speak. We could not even tell each other how we felt about the movie we were so shocked. Let me hasten to say that we are not prudes and live in the real world. But we chose not to use swear words, especially one that has become mainstream now – hint, it begins with F. This Osage County family used it with great frequency – yelling and hitting all the time. Okay, I am going to say it, what in the world has happened to this country?
The world is in huge pain today. It is a dark mystery. As Arthur Golden wrote, “Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are.” We might finally realize what our adversity is doing to us, and then we have to act on it. We have two choices, we either continue as we are, making ourselves and those around us miserable; or we make a choice to change our perceptions, and things might get better. But nothing happens overnight. Remember life is a journey, not a destination.
Violet (Meryl Streep) made the first choice. Her daughters made the second. Mystics would tell us that the daughters entered a cloud of unknowing. We can only hope that they had the patience and fortitude to press on regardless.
May you all live in peace, and be kind to one another.
Tomorrow is a National holiday. We have a day off from work. Most of us are saying “Woo Eeeee!” What do you do on your day off? Many of us catch up on chores. Some of us do nothing – after all it is a holiday. Some of us follow our ordinary routines and then maybe meet friends later for some catch up time. These things are not bad and in fact, maybe all of them are necessary.
But let us ask ourselves, what else can we do? Do we ever give any thought to those who might have a need? Maybe we can spend a couple of hours of our precious time shopping for a friend or gathering up some clothes for the homeless, or a basket for the food pantry.
Tomorrow we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Please just take a minute to give some quiet thought to what he said. “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”
Oh yes. I absolutely think so. If God will be glorified by our receiving what we pray for, then it is a good, not selfish, prayer. The more we speak to God, the more glorified He is in us. If He is more glorified in us, we are a greater blessing to others.
Jesus spent a lot of time in prayer for Himself, and we cannot be a blessing beyond the measure that we receive a blessing. We pray, we ask, we listen. When we look in to see who we are and how we are and begin to understand it; the result becomes looking out to see the condition of others.
Psalm 106: vs 4: Remember me, O Lord, when you show favor to your people; help me when you deliver them. Amen
“No country upon the earth ever had it more in its power to attain these blessings than United America. Wondrously strange, then, and much to be regretted indeed would it be, were we to neglect the means and depart from the road which Providence has pointed us to so plainly; I cannot believe it will ever come to pass.” George Washington
One of the interesting things about Mr. Washington is that we know very little about the personal man. He left few writings and virtually nothing regarding religion. But yet the above quote tells us so much about his character. He spoke about blessings – how blessed we are. He spoke about his great pride is this new country, United America. He spoke about Providence (God?) pointing us in the right direction. He believed so much in the new democracy that he could not imagine it would ever fail.
Wow. I wonder what our first President would think about his beloved United America today. Now I could rant and rave about the mess we are in. But I’m not going to do that. Everyone has an opinion and we all know how highly valued opinions are!
I think Mr. Washington would be most disappointed in just how little people seem to care today. It’s sort of like the story of the man who never spoke up when an injustice was done to someone because it didn’t have anything to do with him. Then one day, everybody was gone and nobody was left who could speak up for him. This is APATHY.
If we want to do one good thing for our country and each other this year, we can start caring. Does our neighbor have enough to eat or a ride to the doctor? Is an animal being abused? Is a family without heat? Does someone need a word of comfort or a ride to church? I maintain that if we see it or think it, and don’t do anything about it, shame on us.
Let us not neglect the means nor depart from the road that makes each one of us great. Remember that if we help one person – even in a small way – every single day for a year; we will have helped 365 people. We could start a revolution of kindness! Imagine that.
Another year is almost upon us! Most of us think about what we can do to improve ourselves. I read today that the number one thing a lot of us want to do is lose weight, The second is to exercise more. I chuckled because if we exercise more, we will probably drop a few pounds. But I digress.
Spinoza, while talking about gratitude, suggested we ask ourselves three questions every day. Who or what inspired me today? What brought me happiness today? What brought me comfort and deep peace today? This struck me as brilliant because if we do this, we have to think about these things – inspiration, happiness, comfort, and deep peace. And we have to think about them in terms of ourselves and every day! If we make a point of doing this simple exercise, we can’t help but change our lives, and for the better.
Long ago, I read the following by an unknown author. Plant a word in the mind and you will reap an act. Plant the act and you will reap the habit. Plant a habit and you will reap a character. Plant a character and you will reap a nature. Plant a nature and you will reap a destiny. Be dutiful about the watering.
Remember that we do not decide our futures. We decide our habits and our habits decide our futures.
Now I have an appointment with the treadmill. Happy New Year and best wishes for a year filled with joy, wonder, comfort and peace.