Archive | March 2011

WE ALL HAVE GIFTS TO SHARE: THE GIFTS OF YANA

I am always on the lookout for demonstrations of The Twelve Gifts. Often I encounter them in unexpected ways.  One time it was during a mammogram.

The radiology technician, Janice, and I made small talk. At the end of the procedure, as I was ready to leave, Janice stopped me and said, “For some reason I want to give you something. It’s a poem written by my daughter.”

And in just a few minutes, before her next scheduled patient, Janice told me a little about the life …and death… of her daughter, Yana.

After years of running away, struggling, and rebelling, at age 24 Yana moved back to her hometown, reconciled with her parents, and began to live her life joyfully, creatively, and responsibly.  Janice was once again enjoying her bright, spirited daughter and the woman she was becoming.

Janice was at her job at the medical center when she heard that, while hiking, a young woman had fallen off a cliff. The accident was probably fatal. Janice began praying for peace for the girl’s soul and for her family. As she did, Janice experienced a sense of peace, feeling that the girl had died doing what she loved.

When Janice learned that the girl was her own beloved Yana, she went into shock.  For awhile, Janice was completely numb.  But slowly, as she began to feel again, she discovered and received many gifts, not in the death, but in the life of Yana.  Some may seem small, but they are significant things that reveal Yana’s large spirit.

For example, looking through photographs, Janice noticed that throughout Yana’s life, from early childhood on, whenever she posed for a picture, Yana leaned in and touched her head to another person in the photo. Janice hadn’t observed that before.  Since that recognition, Janice leans in to touch heads during photos and, in general, “leans in” more to touch and connect with people.

At the funeral, a 60 year-old woman who worked at a grocery store with Yana years earlier–when Yana had seemed to be a troubled teen–told Janice about her daughter’s kindness to homeless people who came into the store looking for handouts.

Most recently, Yana was working as a waitress.  A diner whom Janice had served told Janice about an incident that revealed Yana’s honesty.  Before ordering, he had asked Yana if she had tried the prime rib. Yana answered, “Yes and it is delicious.” Later, she told that man that she wanted to come clean with him. “I’m a vegetarian,” she said. “I didn’t taste the prime rib. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you the truth.”

Months later, on what would have been Yana’s 25th birthday, Janice received a poem that Yana had written a year before she died. Her fiancé had found it among her things and saved it to give to Janice on that special day.  It was the poem she shared with me after my mammogram, which I would like to share with you now:

Sometimes…..just for one minute
everything is perfect
and in that moment everything is
nothing
and time and space become
completely irrelevant
because in that moment a lifetime is
lived.
However insignificant you think
whatever you’re doing is
it is all most important to do.
The purpose or meaning to life is
exactly that.
Yana

Yana’s wisdom, friendliness, compassion, truthfulness, love….all live on in many ways.  For her mother, as she shares stories and is influenced by them, and for us, as we hear them and are perhaps influenced by them, too.  I know that I am now more likely to lean in and touch my head to someone in a photograph with me. I very well may recall Yana’s “coming clean” when I catch myself in a seemingly harmless white lie. I will remember and be guided by her compassion if ever I begin to judge or feel discomfort around a homeless person.

We all have gifts to share–our own and the gifts we see in our loved ones –that can enrich our lives and help us to be better people.

HOMESICK? CONSIDER AN UPLIFT FROM HOME

I came upon a John-Roger quote about “home” this morning. When I read it, a memory and idea popped up and got my attention, like the first hot corn kernels that hit the bag in the microwave and call for me to watch and take care.

The quote is:

“Sometimes a person will feel a sadness and despair that nothing in this world can relieve. It is experienced almost as a feeling of homesickness, and that is actually what it is.” John-Roger goes on to say that we all long to be in touch with this place of “home” in us, the soul place in us, especially when we are out of touch with it.

I’ve known that feeling. Have you?

Well, the memory that suddenly popped was this:

In 1987, my sister-in-law, Mary Margaret, and I started an enterprise called UPLIFTS FROM HOME. It was a part of our main business, TISKET A TASKET, which was a gift basket service located in Jamestown, New York.

Through UPLIFTS FROM HOME, parents sent gift boxes to their away-from home college children who may be experiencing homesickness. Each monthly UPLIFT FROM HOME gift box was designed to nurture a student with food for the body, inspiration for the mind, and love for the spirit, all in a fun way. UPLIFTS FROM HOME were sent to military sons and daughters too.

The idea that burst forth was this:

What if we regularly sent ourselves some sweet little UPLIFT from that place of HOME within us? I think that this very idea came from that place of HOME in me! But, how would we do that? The intention itself is a start.

I invite you to consider sending your self AN UPLIFT FROM HOME today, from that place in you that loves you unconditionally.

What do you think of this idea? Goofy? Maybe. But maybe we all need to be a little goofy now and then. Consider having some fun with this. Be playful. Be child-like.
And let that place of HOME in you let you know that you are loved.

Eat some popcorn.
Play a piece of music you love.
Do a little dance.
Smile.
Tune in to the place of HOME in you.

GOD’S CHAIR

Sedona Arizona God's Chair by Robert Arnone

photo credit Robert Arnone

Focus your attention on the center of this scene in Sedona, Arizona.

Notice the upward protrusion.

Does this Red Rock formation suggest anything to you?

Throughout Sedona, many rocks have been given names

Based on what the formations suggest.

There’s Bell Rock, Snoopy Rock, Coffeepot Rock, and more.

This one is called God’s Chair.

Can you see why?

Whenever I see this rock,

I am filled with a sense of Protection,

Which becomes a reminder of the Presence…

Everywhere.

Not just in some heavenly chair.

But everywhere

Out there, far away,

And right here, in you and me.

Whatever you believe about the Source of Life and the Universe,

Consider today looking for the Presence of Meaning everywhere,

Especially in things that feel confusing.

Consider seeking the Presence of Beauty everywhere,

Especially in what may appear ugly.

Consider trusting that the Presence of Love is everywhere,

Especially in situations that seem to lack love.

God is a circle whose center is everywhere and circumference is nowhere.” – St. Bonaventure

THIS MEANS SOMETHING!

Have you ever seen the 1977 science fiction film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind? The main character, Roy, who is played by Richard Dreyfuss, has a vague image of a mountain in his mind after he sees a UFO. Feeling compelled to find the meaning of that mountain, he attempts to form that mountain in a pile of shaving cream in his hand, in a heap of mashed potatoes on his dinner plate, and in mounds of sand outdoors, as well as in soil he carts into his kitchen. With each zealous effort, he exclaims, “This means something! This means something!”

Sometimes I feel like that character, Roy. Often, when I think about, speak about, or write about life’s gifts, my heart seems to proclaim, “This means something! This means something…SOMETHING MUCH MORE THAN WE YET REALIZE!” And I want to know: what is it about these gifts that we do not yet realize? I sense that when we do realize (as in understand), we are going to realize (as in bring about) a profound transformation.

I sense that, even with the high regard and deep appreciation I have for life’s gifts, it is only a dim glimmer compared to what is possible for us to realize. Perhaps that’s why, like the film character Roy, I feel driven to seek better understanding of these gifts and to learn how to use them consciously day-by-day.

I invite you to join me on this quest. Together, let’s realize.