How do we do this? We don’t see as we did when we were children. With wonderment. Over time our senses have dulled. We’ve seen so much. Perhaps too much. There may be things we wish we have never seen. We may be feeling weary with the world. But pain can also be looked at with awe and appreciation because we will not be here forever to feel our humanity.
May we bring love, compassion, and reverence into all that we see and do. Begin simply with the intention to do so.
“Sometimes a slight change in where we stand can dramatically change how we see things.” ~ Melody Beattie
I love how this is true both literally and symbolically.
For a literal example, consider the Red Rock formations of Sedona, Arizona. Many of them are named according to how they look when viewed from certain vantage points, such as Merry-Go-Round, Snoopy, and God’s Chair.
We used to live near what is called “Coffee Pot Rock.” From that area, the formation does resemble an old style percolator. But, when seen from various spots along hiking trails, that same rock can look like a chicken or just a rock with no meaningful shape.
May we be willing to see things differently by making changes in how and where we stand on positions and life situations, especially if we find ourselves seeing ourselves and others as wrong, bad, or just not good enough.
Today, let’s take a stand that allows us to see beauty.
“Do you solemnly swear that you will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”
~ Courtroom Oath Question
A few days ago I wrote a touchstone that invited us all to be courageous and hopeful about beginning something for the first time or “yet again.”
When I wrote that touchstone, I thought of many possible “somethings” I might approach with this fresh start intention, such as eating more greens and organizing my office, to name two simple ones.
But when I read that touchstone in my own email in-box, something deeper came up from the guiding voice within. Be impeccable with your word, I heard, which, as you may know, is the first of the four principles written about in the bestselling book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. Read the rest of this entry »
In my previous post I presented the entire speech made by Principal Donna Hayward to the 2014 graduating class of Suffield High School in Suffield, CT. While the whole commencement address is powerful, I want to highlight this extraordinary example of strength and courage. May the actions of Iqbal Masih and a group of Canadian 12-year-old children move us to use the gifts of strength and courage however we can, in ways large and small, day by day. Thank you again, Donna, for permission to share your words.
“…This year, I also learned the story of a young boy named Iqbal Masih and his story illustrates how each of us can fight injustice in our own way in our own world. Iqbal was a young Pakistani boy, who was sold into bondage by his parents at the age of four in order to pay off a debt of what amounted to about $16. He worked for years, chained to a weaving loom, fashioning the tiny knots in Pakistani rugs with his small fingers. Although he worked alongside dozens of other children with the same fate, somehow Iqbal felt inside himself a flame of injustice and rebelled against it at the age of ten by running away from his master. When he did, he happened upon an activist in the village square, making a speech about how child slavery had been outlawed – a surprise to Iqbal – and the young boy told a police officer standing nearby that he, in fact, was a child slave. He led the officer back to his master, anticipating justice. Instead, the officer was bribed by the slave owner and left Iqbal behind – the boy facing a cruel punishment instead of the justice he sought. But Iqbal had courage and strength and soon ran away again, this time finding the man who had given the speech in the village square. He brought the activist back to his master, and this man couldn’t be bought or silenced so all the children in Iqbal’s factory were freed. Iqbal joined the Bonded Labour Liberation Front and became famous because he continued his crusade, actually sneaking into other child-slave-shops, gaining the trust of the children and then triggering a raid on the outfit by the liberation group, freeing over 3,000 children in all. Eventually, he visited other countries, including the U.S., to tell his story and advocate for justice in ending childhood slavery. Ultimately, however, Iqbal was murdered when he returned to Pakistan to visit his family. He was only 12 years old.
A week ago, Suffield High School Principal Donna Hayward in Suffield, Connecticut delivered a commencement address that was inspired by The Twelve Gifts of Birth. I’m sharing it here because I believe Ms. Hayward’s message of hope and courage is for all of us. Thank you, Donna, for permission to post your speech along with your photo. I hope to meet you someday, new friend! And thank you, dear reader. As always, I would love to hear your comments.
Class of 2014, you are just minutes from receiving your high school diploma. Your parents are wondering how you got here so fast, as it seems such a short time ago that you were born. Just a few years ago, you took your first steps, spoke your first words, got on the school bus kindergarten bound, learned to ride a bike. This is a natural time for your parents to reflect on the last 18 or so years and for us, your teachers, to reflect on whatever role we have played in your upbringing. As it turns out, teaching and parenting are closely related.
When my daughter was born, we received the usual tidal wave of gifts – blankets, cute little outfits, and baby gear of all kinds. One gift, in particular, though stood out as it arrived without a note or tag from the sender to indicate who had given it. One day, it simply arrived in my mailbox – its message clear – but to this day I don’t know who sent it. It was a book entitled, The Twelve Gifts of Birth, by Charlene Costanzo and it details the gifts or qualities bestowed upon each of you upon your birth as a human. “Royal dignity was yours from the day you were born,” the book begins – and on that day and on a day such as this all parents and teachers hope their children know these gifts. My role today is to remind you that you do all have them and to implore you to use them consciously and with purpose from this day forward.
The first gift is Hope and each of you were born with it. Read the rest of this entry »
We have two cats. Both adopted us in 2001.
My husband and I were traveling in a motor home from Arizona to Florida.
Three days later, a handsome grey shorthair did the same thing at a campground in Orlando. We named him Bailey.
Over the years, Minka and Bailey have given us many gifts and life lessons. They’ve shown us how to play, be silly, stretch, be flexible and graceful, cuddle, snuggle, nap, be present, savor scents and all our senses, stay nicely groomed, and more.
Last week, Bailey was diagnosed with widespread carcinomatosis. Our vet said that our sweet boy cat has perhaps two months to live. Probably less. Among the hard things: we are going to have to decide when to say when.
We’ve never had to put a pet down. We aim to preserve life. In fact, in our home we’ve had a catch-and-release program (for spiders, mice, and other unwelcomed house guests) in place since the 1980s.
But we must consider Bailey’s comfort and quality of life.
Among the good things: facing death hurts, and yet it can lead us toward greater love and compassion. Read the rest of this entry »
Like my friend Kathy, I’ve given up complaining for Lent. We’re both finding it harder than the fasting from chocolate we did as children. Not that we now want to complain more than we wanted chocolate as kids, it’s just that complaints have a way of slipping out. That’s one of the reasons we’re aiming to abstain. It helps us become aware of how often we whine, and becoming aware is the first step toward change.
Have you ever heard of the Complaint Free World project? In 2006, a man named Will Bowen challenged fellow church members to give up complaining for 21 days straight. His idea caught on and spread throughout the world. Since the project started, more than 10 million people have received the purple bracelet that is used as a tool in the project.
Here’s a related idea: What if, besides working toward a complaint-free world, we create a compliment-rich world? Read the rest of this entry »
~ Psalm 51:10
I love this psalm. Long ago I had a vinyl record of a song inspired by this passage. I can still play it in my mind.
As winter ends and spring draws near, let’s make way for heart cleanings and clearings.
Intend to release judgments, regrets, and resentments. Consider using, today and every day, a song, a prayer, a ritual, an affirmation, some activity that helps you open to the grace of letting go, with love and compassion.
“The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning.”
~ Rebecca West
The quote and reflection/suggestion above was a recent Today’s Touchstone. One subscriber wrote and shared this:
“I saw many circles starting this morning – my coffee mug, my watch, my cereal bowl, top of the milk jug, a planter, a sweet candle holder, a ring, the letter o in the word love. New beginnings – getting home early from work, allowing myself to take a short nap at work for renewing my energy, not worrying when someone cancels or reschedules…”
Myself, I happened to be traveling that day. Along with clocks, road signage, and round-abouts, I spotted many art objects at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, Arizona, like this woven basket. The spiral within the circle reminds me that life is a journey for each of us.
Every day is a good day to notice beautiful circular patterns in the outer world and, with a sense of nowness and newness, be ready for fresh starts. Blessings for your path!