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HOPE FOR ALL AGES AND STAGES OF LIFE

 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.  

Donna HaywardClass 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. Continue reading

FRESH STARTS

“The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning.”

~ Rebecca West

 

Spiral basketWatch for circles today. Look for signs of fresh starts and new beginnings. With the gift of hope, trust in what is ahead and just around the corner.

 

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!

 

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.

APPROACH EACH DAY LIKE A TREASURE HUNT

“I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.” – Agatha Christie


treasure trail start

 

When our grandchildren, Alexis and Anthony, come to visit, my husband and I often lay out though the house a paper strip trail for them to follow.

 

Around tables and over beds, the trail leads them in and out of rooms in search of “X marks the spot.” There, under the X, they will find some little treat or trinket.

 

While they delight in whatever they find under the X, and say “thank you” very nicely, it seems to me that the peak of their joy is at the start of the hunt, just seeing a portion of the trail X marks the spotahead, along with the process of discovering the course of the path.

 

This seems like a metaphor for living each day. We don’t know where the day will lead us, what obstacles we may face, what twists and turns there may be for us. Still, this day, every day, is an adventure in living. It holds a gift. It is a grand thing just to be alive!

 

Wishing you sweet discoveries every day, with love.

THE STRENGTH THAT IS IN US, THE GIFT THAT IS LIFE

Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing this photo of a tree growing in the gutter.

 

Tree Growing in GutterIt is a visual touchstone for

the strength that is in us,

the strength that is life,

the beauty that is in us,

the beauty that is life,

the courage that is in us,

the courage that is life,

the hope that is in us,

the hope that is life,

the gifts that are in us,

the gift that is life.

 

GOOD NEWS? BAD NEWS? SEEING WITH HOPE AND FAITH

"Things are always changing. Hold hope."

“It is hard to tell our bad luck from our good luck sometimes.”

                                                         – Merle Shain

 

Situations that first seem “bad” can turn out to be “good” in some way. By the same token, sometimes situations that seem positive may turn out to give us challenges. 

 

One of my touchstones for hope and faith is a Chinese story that offers wisdom about this:

 

           

            Long ago there was a farmer who lost his favorite horse. Besides helping the farmer with his work, the mare was like a friend. One day she wandered away. The old man searched but couldn’t find her. His neighbors went out to look too. When the horse could not be found, the neighbors tried to console the farmer. “We are sorry that this bad fortune happened to you,” they said.

 

            The farmer smiled and replied, “Thank you for helping me search for my horse and for your condolences, but we shall see. Bad fortune? Who knows? Things are always changing.”

 

            A few weeks later the horse returned. With her walked a strong stallion. 

 

            “Good fortune!” said the neighbors.

 

            “The farmer again said, “We shall see.”

 

            In time the mare gave birth to a foal.  “Good fortune!” said the neighbors.

 

            The farmer simply smiled.

 

            A few months later, the man’s son broke his leg while trying to ride the untamed young horse.

 

            “Oh, bad fortune!” said the neighbors.

 

            “We shall see,” said the farmer.

 

            The son’s leg soon began to heal. 

 

            “Good fortune,” said the neighbors. 

 

            The farmer smiled. 

 

            In time the son walked again but with a slight limp.

            “Oh, too bad.  Bad fortune,” said the neighbors.

 

            “We shall see,” said the farmer, smiling, of course. 

 

            A year later a terrible war began. Most young men were called to serve. Many never returned. Because the farmer’s son walked with a limp, he was considered unfit to be a soldier.  He stayed on the farm and survived to live a long life.    

 

May we trust what is unfolding.      

A TREE GROWS IN SEDONA: A TOUCHSTONE FOR STRENGTH AND HOPE

Joanne's TreeMy friend Joanne greatly appreciated the tree that stood in front of her townhouse.

 

One day Joanne noticed small dark spots on nearly all the leaves. Close inspection revealed that millions of tiny bugs had invaded her arboreal friend. She immediately called the homeowners’ association to report the problem and asked that the tree be treated.

 

Joanne was horrified when, a few days later, she came home to find the tree being chopped down. In fact, by the time she arrived, it was nearly gone, felled to the ground.

 

She regretted reporting the problem. “I should have sprayed it, tried some things myself, taken some other approach,” she repeated to herself and to all who would listen.

 

Day after day, Joanne mourned her missing tree. Where there had been beauty and vibrant life, there was now a barrenness in front of her home – no singing birds, no swaying branches, no soothing shade, no musical rustling of leaves – just a circle of stones, like a grave marker, around where the tree had stood.

 

Many months later, a shoot appeared from within that circle of empty red earth Continue reading

A MESSAGE OF HOPE AND HEALING

Butterfly

My mom had suffered a severe stroke. Her doctor said we should prepare ourselves: she probably would not recover.

 

My mom survived that night. And another.

 

When she regained consciousness, she couldn’t move or speak.

 

But her eyes seemed to say: “I’m very sick, aren’t I?”

 

The next morning, after reading a healing message in my daily devotional, I hurried to the hospital and rushed to her beside.

 

“Mom, I read something this morning. I’d like to read it to you. Would you like to hear it?” I asked.

 

Her eyes said, “Yes.”    Continue reading

MAY YOUR INNER SPARKLING SPACIOUSNESS SHINE!

One of the things I loved about Christmas when I was a child was gazing into the shiny balls on our decorated tree and feeling as if I had entered a magical place.

When I looked into those fragile spheres, I saw my home transformed. The curvature of the ornaments reflected rooms much larger than they actually were and created an effect that was both sparkly and soft.

So, instead of seeing our small living room and dining room, I saw rooms that were spacious and gracious, peaceful and palatial. I loved going from color to color and experiencing the palace of my home as golden, then silver, then red because each color stirred a slightly different wondrous feeling, kind of like love, hope, and joy.

Looking back, I can see now that I HAD entered a magical place, a mystical place.

The outer palace I saw was a reflection of the inner sparkling spaciousness that dwells in the heart of every child.

Remember how you felt as a child, when outer wonderment resonated with the wonderment in you?

No matter what age we are now, we’ve all got that place within us.

During this busy season, may we take time to enter the “Inner Palace.”

May we be renewed in the gifts of love, hope, and joy.

And, may our inner sparkling spaciousness shine in the world and be reflected back to us.