Tag Archive | Love

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

HAPPY NEW YEAR

 

Girl jumps to the New Year 2016

 

“The old year is put to bed, one’s business is finished, and the harvest of spiritual maturity is reaped as wisdom and forgiveness.”  ~ Joan Borysenko

May we end 2015 with a sense of completion and gratitude for learnings.

May we look to 2016 with a sense of promise, with hope, and with a readiness to heal, learn, and grow further in love, in wisdom, in kindness.

And may we listen with care to the callings in our hearts. How are we to contribute our time and talent in ways that contribute to a better world and bring joy to us?

Wishing you great leaps forward,
Charlene

ROCK MY SOUL

“So high I can’t get over itCarried by Love
So low I can’t get under it

So wide I can’t get round it
Oh, rock my soul.”

Do you know this Peter, Paul, and Mary song?

When I sang it back in the ’60s with fellow St. Bonaventure students at a popular Olean, NY coffeehouse/bar, I didn’t understand its meaning. What was the it that was too high, too wide, and too deep to get around? Actually, I didn’t give it that much thought. I just liked the tune and the way we sang it in rounds, led by a student folk group, The Wooden Nickel. 

I don’t yet know for sure, but it seems to me now that the it can be any challenge or painful experience that we don’t want to go through. We’d rather get around it. But we can’t. The only way is to go through it and experience the it. 

This song has come into my consciousness several times in recent years when I’ve faced something big. I think it was wisdom’s way of showing me that I needed comfort and that I could be carried through, rocked and cradled in the arms of Love. We all can. 

May we welcome the lifting of Love whenever we face…whatever we face.  

Wishing you love and all that you need.

Always,
Charlene 
                   

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.

THIS MEANS SOMETHING!

Have you ever seen the 1977 science fiction film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind? The main character, Roy, who is played by Richard Dreyfuss, has a vague image of a mountain in his mind after he sees a UFO. Feeling compelled to find the meaning of that mountain, he attempts to form that mountain in a pile of shaving cream in his hand, in a heap of mashed potatoes on his dinner plate, and in mounds of sand outdoors, as well as in soil he carts into his kitchen. With each zealous effort, he exclaims, “This means something! This means something!”

Sometimes I feel like that character, Roy. Often, when I think about, speak about, or write about life’s gifts, my heart seems to proclaim, “This means something! This means something…SOMETHING MUCH MORE THAN WE YET REALIZE!” And I want to know: what is it about these gifts that we do not yet realize? I sense that when we do realize (as in understand), we are going to realize (as in bring about) a profound transformation.

I sense that, even with the high regard and deep appreciation I have for life’s gifts, it is only a dim glimmer compared to what is possible for us to realize. Perhaps that’s why, like the film character Roy, I feel driven to seek better understanding of these gifts and to learn how to use them consciously day-by-day.

I invite you to join me on this quest. Together, let’s realize.