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CATS: AND THE LESSONS THEY TEACH US

We have two cats. Both adopted us in 2001.

 

My husband and I were traveling in a motor home from Arizona to Florida.

 

MinkaAt a KOA in Texas, as we pulled onto our site, a homeless Tortie kitten raced across the campground, sat, and meowed outside our door. We let her in and named her Minka.

 

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 saidBailey 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.  Continue reading

SPRING CLEAN

 

Clean heart“Create in me a clean heart, O God…”  

                                     ~ 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. 

                                                      

WHO SAYS THE WORLD IS GETTING BETTER?

Who says the world is getting better?Hope for the World

 

Well, the Dalai Lama for one.

 

Every day we are bombarded with news of gloom and doom. If we focus on that, we’re likely to conclude that the state of the world is worsening.

 

Please don’t despair.

 

According to His Holiness, humankind is maturing. We are also becoming more compassionate. Of course we still have a ways to go, but we are moving toward greater awareness of our connectedness and into a higher state of consciousness and love.

 

In several presentations, the Dalai Lama recalls discussing with the late Queen Mother this question about the world improving or worsening.

 

“The world is definitely getting better,” said Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. As an example, she pointed out that, when she was a child, there was no awareness in England around the issue of human rights. But in the course of the last century, human rights as a concept has become part of our world-wide universal consciousness.  While equal rights for all has certainly not yet been fully manifested, it is being realized a bit more day-by-day.

 

Please don’t give up. Become a conscious part of “the becoming better.” Focus on good news. Share it. Join the growing numbers of people practicing at least one random act of kindness every day. Be kind to you.

 

You matter. Your love. Your hope. Your caring. Your dreams. Your talent. You becoming more and more authentically you, with courage and compassion, is one of the ways the world is getting better.

ADOPT THE PACE OF NATURE

bird at pond
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience, said Ralph Waldo Emerson.


“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day,” wrote A.A. Milne.

 

As I rush toward leaving home to go on a personal retreat, I’m holding these quotes in mind. Wise advice, both of them. Lately my pace has been more like a hurricane wind than a tree growing or a river flowing or the swimming turtle I saw in the pond near my home this morning.

 

How has your pace been this summer? Whatever your pace, I invite you to practice “unconditional friendliness” toward yourself and what is in your life right now.

 

Unconditional friendliness. Like the quotes above, I’m holding this expression like a touchstone as I aim to be compassionate and not judge myself for once again letting things get out of balance and swing wildly like a conch shell hanging from a string on tree during high winds.
weather conch

I hope you enjoy the playful lightness of this “Official Weather Conch” photo, taken on a vacation a few years ago, and feel the love with which this post is written.

ROCK MY SOUL

 

Isn’t it amazing how wisdom speaks to us in so many ways?

 

Have you ever had a song suddenly start playing in your mind? I’m pretty sure we’ve all had this experience sometime. It happened to me this morning with Peter, Paul, and Mary’s folk version of Rock My Soul.

 

Rock My SoulRock my soul in the bosom of Abraham…

Oh rock my soul… 

So high can’t get over it

So low can’t get under it

So wide can’t get round it

Oh rock my soul…

 

I hadn’t heard this song since 1969, when a hundred or so other St. Bonaventure students and I sang along with The Wooden Nickel performances on Saturday nights at the O.H. in Olean, New York. 

 

Back then, I didn’t know what the “it” was in

“can’t get over it…under it…or round it.”

And I still don’t know for sure.

 

But this morning I got a clue–at least about what “it” meant to me in the moment.

 

I was feeling a deep hurt.  

 

When the song started “playing,”
it felt like wisdom, gently guiding.

 

“Don’t try to ignore, deny, or stifle the hurting,” it said.

“You can’t climb over it, sneak under it, or run around it.

And it’s best not to.”

 

Upon hearing the inner music, I got it.

 

It is what it is and I need to let it be… as another song goes, speaking words of wisdom.

 

Let it be. Let it be, sang the Beatles.

 

Yes. Let it be.

When hurt fills you, what do you do?

Perhaps these songs sound true for you too.

 

Instead of trying to escape or suppress pain,

we can breathe, let it be,

and let ourselves be cradled in compassion

and rocked by Love Itself.

Wishing you all of life’s gifts and wonders, today and every day.

And, may your soul be gently rocked.

WORTHINESS AND THE WIZARD OF OZ

YOU ARE WORTHYI give a lot of thought and writing time to “worthiness.”

 

So many of us feel unworthy at times.

 

While it’s painful to feel that we are unworthy, it’s downright dangerous to believe that we are unworthy.  

 

On the other hand, it’s empowering–and healing–to recognize ourselves and one another as worthy. Worthiness builds respect and opens us to reverence. Worthiness leads us to good things, to great things.

 

I just saw some valuable messages about worthiness in the film, Oz.

 

In case you don’t already know, this 2013 Disney movie, the back story of The Wizard of Oz, shows how the Wizard got to the Land of Oz long before Dorothy arrives.

 

As the story begins, we meet Oscar Diggs, a small time magician in a traveling circus in Kansas. While Oscar loves a lot of things about his work, appreciates wonderment, and has big dreams, mostly he judges himself as unworthy.

 

Steeped in the art of illusion, Oscar perceives himself to be less than honorable. He comes across that way too, as cunning, crafty, and shrewd. As viewers, we question his integrity, just as he does of himself.

 

Like Dorothy, Oscar is carried to Oz by a tornado. There, he appears to be the foretold Wizard who will defeat the Wicked Witch and restore peace and harmony in the Land of Oz.  

 

Accepting the call to act as Wizard brings Oscar through many conflicts and trials with the three witches and within himself. Often, he doubts his ability to do any good at all.  In fact, he begins to see himself as even less worthy, a really big fake, because he is pretending to be a Wizard with truly special powers.

 

It takes the Good Witch, Glinda, to reflect to him, again and again, what she sees in him: a man doing his best, a man with a caring heart, a man with limitations and flaws, yes, but a man with goodness at the core, a man who is worthy.

 

At last, at the end of the movie, Oscar sees himself as worthy. He commits to trying his best to restore peace and harmony to the Land of Oz. He becomes the Wizard.

 

May we all see worthiness in ourselves and one another, do our best to bring peace and harmony to our world, and become what we are called to be.

THINKING OF YOU: CARING AS A FORM OF PRAYER

 

birthday flowers

“If, instead of a gem or even a flower,
we should cast a gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend,
that would be giving as the angels give.” – George Macdonald

 

 

Coming across this quote today stirred in me a memory of a study on prayer that I heard about many years ago.

 

 

In 1969 in Salem, Oregon, an organization known as Spindrift conducted a series of experiments involving seeds and prayer. First, two groups of rye seeds were planted in identical conditions. One group was prayed for and one was not. The prayed-for group grew better, with taller seedlings and more shoots. In further experiments, the researchers applied prayer to “seeds in crisis.” Salt was added to the watering can to stress the seeds as they tried to grow. The seeds that were watered with salt water and were prayed for grew higher then the healthy seeds that were not prayed for. They also grew taller than the prayed for seeds that received fresh water. The experiments were repeated with various types of seeds, and the results were consistent: Seedlings facing adversity and receiving prayer thrived.

 

Since I first heard about The Spindrift Study, I’ve often thought about how we are like those little seedlings with salt water poured upon them. In some form, we all have adversity rained upon us. We can grow greater Continue reading

BILOXI BLUES: DEMONSTRATING DIGNITY AND COMPASSION

Biloxi BluesEvery day I look to see how and where I might observe any and all of The Twelve Gifts being played out in life. Today, I saw them played out in a play.

 

 

Neil Simon’s Biloxi Blues tells a story of young army recruits going through basic training at a boot camp in Mississippi during World War II.

 

 

It was the character named Epstein who most drew the attention of my heart as he demonstrated dignity and compassion despite being picked on by his sergeant and fellow recruits, mainly because he is Jewish and philosophical in his approach to life.

 

 

When the play open, Epstein appears to be a young man with a weak constitution. “Diagnosed with a nervous stomach,” he says, with a doctor’s report to prove it.

 

 

Yet, scrawny private Epstein stands strong and tall Continue reading

GETTING OUT THE BITTERNESS: LESSONS FROM EGGPLANT AND AN AGING UNCLE

Salted EggplantEggplant.

 

It can be so delicious, layered in Eggplant Parmesan, Moussaka, and Ratatouille and all by itself, grilled, baked, or fried.

 

Or, it can be bitter.

 

But, that bitterness can be removed, quite easily, too. While there are variations on how that’s best done, the key seems to be salt. Salt draws the bitterness out. Some say to slice, salt, and press the eggplant. Others recommend soaking it in a salty brine.

 

We can experience ourselves, our lives, as delicious.

 

And we can know bitterness.

 

Bitterness increases in eggplants as they age and get stale. Perhaps, in a way, that is what sometimes happens to us.

 

We had an uncle in our family who grew more and more bitter as he aged. One day, when my husband and I visited that uncle, although he was eighty years old, he seemed younger than the last time we had seen him. Something had changed. He looked happy and healthy, too. When we commented about how good he looked, he said, “I got rid of the bitterness.”

 

“How did you do that?” I asked.  Continue reading