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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.

THERE ARE NO ORDINARY MOMENTS

In the Oscar-winning film, Titanic, steerage-class character Jack Dawson dines in first-class with some of the world’s wealthiest movers and shakers. When he is asked about how he makes his way in the world, in light of his poor social and financial standing, he makes it clear that he sees his life as rich. He explains that he has all that he needs within himself and with what is at hand, namely: his art supplies and the surroundings of each moment.

“I figure life’s a gift and I don’t intend on wasting it,” says Dawson, and he commits to making each day count.



          

Dawson’s perspective reminds me of my brother, Keith, and his particular way of “making each day count.”

About 5 years ago, Keith started what he calls his “photo of the day” practice.  It began when Keith had an epiphany experience–one that we all have when we realize that much time has passed in our lives.

SAMSUNGThat wake-up experience led Keith to take one photo each day, in a certain way. His intention was to pause, savor a moment, and honor it by recording it. While some of his photos capture sunsets, record his garden in bloom, and show his dogs at play, many are reminders of seemingly mundane moments: a sunny-side egg frying in a pan, a just-poured glass of beer, water flowing from the shower head.

“It’s not about waiting for peak experiences or the high-points each day,” says Keith. “I just want to stop and appreciate ordinary moments.”

He explains that, now and then, he really “gets it” that there are no ordinary moments. They’re all magnificent.

Deep down we all know this. But we forget.

May we become better and better at remembering.  

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.

DIFFERENCES AT THE DUOMO: A TOUCHSTONE FOR REVERENCE

When I catch myself starting to judge, and I wish, instead, to simply accept all the differences among us, I recall a family trip to Italy.

 

Upon arriving in Multepulciano, we visited the Duomo.  

 

“Aw, cute doggie,” gushed Stephanie, pausing on the steps outside the door.

 

“Look! A della Robbia!” squealed Many Lou upon entering and glancing to the left.

 

Frank was drawn straight to the tomb.

 

The worn wooden kneeler in front of the confessional most interested me. While each member of our family explored according to his or her own interests, with my own knees pressed into the grooves formed over centuries, I thought of the hurts carried in the hearts of thousands of people who had knelt there before me.

 

Krista stood, took all that in, and, with delight, shared what she saw: Stephanie loving animals, Mary Lou loving art, Frank loving history, me loving stories.

 

The fact is: we all see the world differently.

 

Instead of trying to convince others to see things our way or judge others for having different points of view and interests, we can appreciate the rich diversity among us and follow the callings of our own hearts.

 

All with reverence. 

EARTH DAY REFLECTIONS

 An Earthly Embrace“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet,
and the winds long to play with your hair,” wrote Kahlil Gibran.

May we delight in nature’s wonders and respond to earth’s caring for us with reciprocal loving.

 

“Everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it and every person a mission,” said Mourning Dove Salish

Consider the wondrous web of which we are a part. 
When we bring our gifts and talents forward,
we help heal, renew, and strengthen the whole.

 

“The ground on which we stand is sacred ground,” Chief Plenty Coups reminds us.

May we greet every day as a Reverence for Earth Day. 

THE INGREDIENT OF LOVE: YOU CAN’T SEE IT BUT IT’S THERE

bread 3A few days ago, my twin grandchildren made bread with me for the first time. At age two, they’re eager to help with everything.

 

 

I delighted in watching them add spoonfuls and scoopfuls of the ingredients. After the sugar, salt, yeast, water, milk, butter, and flour were mixed and kneaded, I said, “Oh, Alexis and Anthony. I almost forgot to add the love.”

 

 

Although lots of loving had been part of the process, I wanted to add love consciously. So I took a deep breath, smiled broadly, and kneaded a minute longer, while reciting, “Love, love, love…”

 

“I don’t see the love, Nana,” said Anthony. “Where is it? I want to see it.”  Continue reading

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.

THE THIRTEENTH GIFT

March 1st, is the release date for The Thirteenth Gift, my latest book.

Ever since writing the first version of The Twelve Gifts of Birth for my daughters, I mused about a situation described in that book:

“…the wise women came to understand that the twelve royal gifts of birth belong to every child, born anywhere, at any time. They yearned to proclaim the gifts to all children, but the customs of the land did not allow that.”

I wondered, What did those godmothers do? And what happened as a result?

The Thirteenth Gift reveals the answers to this these questions–and others–when the book’s main character, Claire, a U.S. journalist on assignment in Eastern Europe, stoops to pick up a stone and meets Baba. The old woman explains to Claire why so many people throughout the world find stones alluring. The legend told by Baba has a profound healing effect on Claire.

I hope that this story will renew your sense of wonder…as it did for Claire…as it did for me.