Tag Archive | compassion

A “FAITH IN HUMANITY” STORY OF COMPASSION, HOPE, AND JOY

 

On September 10th, an unusual ad appeared in a Houston newspaper. The ad is actually a letter from the people of New Orleans to the people of Houston. The message, a moving and powerful one, demonstrates the best in humanity, including its beauty. Our beauty.

 

Please read the letter below. What thoughts, feelings, and ideas does it stir in you? Post your comments on the contact page here on my website or write to me at CharleneCostanzo@gmail.com.

 

“To our friends in Texas,

Twelve years ago, you took in hundreds of thousands of us. You opened your homes, closets, and kitchens. You found schools for our kids and jobs to tide us over. Some of us are still there. And when the rest of the world told us not to rebuild, you told us not to listen. Keep our city and traditions alive.

Now, no two storms are the same. Comparing rising waters is a waste of energy when you need it most. But know this — in our darkest hour, we found peace and a scorching, bright light of hope with our friends in Texas. And we hope you’ll find the same in us.

Our doors are open. Our clothes come in every size. There’s hot food on the stove, and our cabinets are well-stocked. We promise to always share what we have.

Soon, home will feel like home again, even if it seems like a lifetime away. We’ll be battling for football recruits under the Friday night lights. You’ll tell us to stop trying to barbeque. We’ll tell you to lay off your crawfish boil and come have the real thing. But for as long as you need, we’re here to help.

The way of life you love the most will carry on. You taught us that. Your courage and care continues to inspire our whole city. We couldn’t be more proud to call you our neighbors, our friends, and our family. Texas forever.

We’re with you,
New Orleans”

(from the Houston Chronicle)

As I read it again, I tear, again. But they are happy tears. My faith in humanity is strengthened. You and I can act with this level of compassion and reverence for others, day in and day out, in times of calamity and times of calm, always. We have the capacity for this. And the courage. We can respond with loving care and respect no matter how others behave. Does this seem wise or foolish to you? Realistic, idealistic, or unrealistic? I’d love to hear from you!

Charlene

ABOUT BEAUTY, FROM A RECOVERING PERFECTIONIST

Tree in a meadow

“If you look closely at a tree you’ll notice its knots and dead branches, just like our bodies. What we learn is that beauty and imperfection go together wonderfully.”
~ Matthew Fox

 


I have often used polished stones as a way to demonstrate this message about beauty and imperfection.

When I give polished stones away at school presentations and workshops, I invite everyone to look closely and notice all the little nicks and scratches on the stones. Yes, they are strong and beautiful – the agates, the ambers, the amethysts, the apache tears, and the aquamarines, to name just a few. And, they are not perfect. Like us.

Another take-away from the stones is this: Colorful polished stones in circle
the stones come in all different colors,
shapes, and sizes. Like us.
And they are all beautiful. Like us.

Today and every day, let’s focus on the good and the beautiful in ourselves, others, and the world.

From a recovering perfectionist…

With love and compassion,
Charlene

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

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.