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. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
~ 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.
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.
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.
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.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Looks for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ ” – Fred Rogers
Mindful of hope, let’s look for the helpers.
Mindful of beauty, let’s be the helpers.
Mindful of wisdom, let’s nurture others with this perspective.
With love and gratitude for my mom and all moms, Happy Mother’s Day!
“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