~ Edward Everett Hale
I love how this is true both literally and symbolically.
For a literal example, consider the Red Rock formations of Sedona, Arizona. Many of them are named according to how they look when viewed from certain vantage points, such as Merry-Go-Round, Snoopy, and God’s Chair.
We used to live near what is called “Coffee Pot Rock.” From that area, the formation does resemble an old style percolator. But, when seen from various spots along hiking trails, that same rock can look like a chicken or just a rock with no meaningful shape.
May we be willing to see things differently by making changes in how and where we stand on positions and life situations, especially if we find ourselves seeing ourselves and others as wrong, bad, or just not good enough.
Today, let’s take a stand that allows us to see beauty.
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.
All children are born “gifted and talented.” While every child may not excel in athletic skill, artistic expression, or academic performance, every child does possess the resources of inner strength, beauty, courage, compassion, hope, joy, talent, imagination, reverence, wisdom, love, and faith.
Poets, prophets, and philosophers have, for centuries, been pointing the way to true prosperity and successful living by using our inner gifts. We hear this wisdom in all of the world’s religions. We can even find guidance in fables and folk tales.
Consider the classic Sleeping Beauty story, for example. The princess, named Beauty, pricks her finger on a poisoned Continue reading
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
During an overnight camp stay at Grayton Beach State Park in Florida’s Panhandle, my husband, Frank, and I met researcher, Jeff.
Frank, Jeff, and I were waiting to use the one outdoor public telephone. Although we had cell phones, no signal was available at that location. It was 1999. Many of us still used public telephones when traveling.
As we waited, we learned that Jeff was camping there for several weeks to study the Choctawhatchee Beach Mouse.
Beach mouse? I didn’t know there were mice on beaches. It makes sense though. I suppose mice are pretty much everywhere, but I had never thought about that. Up until meeting Jeff, I had only pictured beaches with sand, shells, gulls, terns, crabs, jellyfish… shore creatures.
Jeff’s enthusiasm and caring for those beach mice was so powerful that my husband and I almost got up at 4:00 AM the next morning to join Jeff on the beach and observe the little creatures, as we had been invited to do so. I even set the clock’s alarm in our RV. But, when it went off, sleep was more appealing than looking for mice with Jeff.
Before leaving that beautiful state park, we did get to see a few Choctawhatchee Beach Mice at Jeff’s campsite and to learn more both about the mice and about Jeff.
Jeff had left a lucrative job working on oil platforms to follow his heart’s desire. Even though it would require an investment of time and money and result in a career that paid less money, Jeff chose to go to undergraduate and graduate school so that he could study endangered species and work to protect them. Jeff loved nature and realized that he wanted to use his time and talent in a way that would respect and care for the environment.
Wow. Jeff, wherever you are all these years later, you are one of my touchstones for the gift of talent.
May we all discover our true interests and abilities and contribute them toward a better world.
During a reent visit to Disney World, I visited the “One Man’s Dream” exhibit and watched a film about the life of Walt Disney.
Despite many failures, Mr. Disney stayed faithful to his dreams and not only built an enormously successful business empire; he continues to bring joy into the world and to so many people, even after his death.
For me the main take-away message from that film was: Cherish imagination and inspiration. Nourish good ideas. Don’t let then die.
Coincidently, the day after that Disney World visit, I came across a feature about Disney World engineering feats on Modern Marvels on the History Channel.
Again the main take-away message for me was: Keep good ideas alive! The episode even referred to “Keep good ideas alive” being a kind of mantra at Disney.
When I heard that, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to work in an environment that fostered that philosophy!” And then I realized how each and every one of us can do that for ourselves. We can honor our good ideas, nourish them like little seedlings, and help them grow.
We can. And we must, I think.
It’s my belief that we are all meant to be “Imagineers,” whether or not we have any work affiliation with Disney. We all have the gift of imagination. We all get inspired with ideas. Not every thought is a good idea, of course. We do have to distinguish and discern.
But we all do get good ideas. The especially good ideas are the ones that can help make the world a better place, not necessarily in a big Disney-like way. Although, who knows where a seemingly-small good idea may lead? Consider how the Disney empire began with a drawing of one little mouse.
The best good ideas come through our hearts as well as our heads. What good ideas have been gifted to you? Is there something nudging at you now as you read this, asking for your attention?
Besides keeping alive the ideas that use our particular expression of talent, let’s keep alive good ideas for the world. For example, let’s keep alive the idea that every man, woman, and child on the planet can have their basic needs met. Imagine every person having shelter, food, water, clothing, an education and health care…basic well-being.
What a good idea! A GREAT idea! And it IS possible!
Let’s not let naysayers and “bad” news mongers lead us into thinking we are foolish to dream or that we are doomed.
Let’s keep good ideas alive! Let’s help make them grow. How? Begin by visualizing good ideas as real. Nourish them in your mind and heart. See good ideas for the world and your own personal good ideas coming into reality. And each time you see it, say “Thank you.”
In 1943, at age 29, Etty Hillesum was sent with her family to the gas chambers at Auschwitz. Like Anne Frank, Etty kept a diary. In it, she writes about the beauty she sees and the compassion she feels for humanity.
I like to hold in my mind an image of Etty as she describes herself “standing in some corner of the camp, my feet planted on earth, my eyes raised towards heaven, tears running down my face, tears of deep emotion and gratitude.”
Gratitude! This young woman is living in a death camp and expressing gratitude for the beauty she sees.
In my mind’s eye, I try to picture young Etty–malnourished, perhaps abused and bruised–and yet appreciating the goodness and beauty of life. In my imagination, I stand by her side, and I wonder: What might she be appreciating in the moment? Is it something in nature? Does she see a purple wildflower pushing its way through parched soil? Has she spotted a deer in the distance? Has she heard the lilting call of a bird to its mate? Might the formation of clouds in the sky above offer a lovely sight to behold? Or, might a happy memory be uplifting her?
Any or all of those things, at times, may have stirred gratitude and joy in Etty’s heart. However, I sense in her a capacity and a commitment to seeing beauty, and expressing beauty, no matter what. In fact, she also wrote, “I know what may lie in wait for us…And yet I find life beautiful and meaningful.”
Etty’s perspective leads me to think: “Surely, no matter what I face today, I too can find life beautiful.”
(From TOUCHSTONES: STORIES FOR LIVING THE TWELVE GIFTS)
Have you ever received a touching letter that literally fell apart because you read it so many times?
I got such a letter from my daughter, Krista, back in 1987, when she was a junior in high school.
My husband, our two daughters, and I had caught the first plane out from western New York that would get us to New Jersey, where my mom had been hospitalized after experiencing a stroke.
When we arrived at the hospital, I asked about my mom’s prognosis. Her doctor shook his head and lowered his eyes, avoiding mine.
“What are you telling me, doctor?” I asked.
“It was massive,” he said. “You should prepare yourself.”
But my mom survived that night. And another. And another. And, it started to look like it might not yet be my mom’s time to die. Her chances for a meaningful recovery were minimal, however, according to the medical team.
Nevertheless, after a few more days, my husband and daughters planned to fly home and return to work and school, while I planned to stay with my mom and be at her side as much as the hospital permitted.
It was then, before my family left for Newark Airport, that Krista presented me with a letter, hand-written on a sheet of loose-leaf paper.
In among her encouraging words, she had woven three scriptural verses. I wish I still had that letter. But between my tear drops, the oil from my fingers, and the many openings and re-foldings, the paper on which the letter was written simply fell apart.
However, the thoughts, the love, and the faith poured into it–they became a permanent part of my mind, heart, and soul, as did those verses.
In fact, I have been reading them every day since then. When the paper began to tear, I copied the verses Krista had chosen to quote for me.
I’ve read them so many times–close to 10,000 now–and through so many times, including when I faced a form of cancer for which I was told, “There is no cure,” that these quotes, along with the memory of daughter’s letter, are among my most valued touchstones for building inner strength.
I share the verses here because I want to encourage others, as my daughter did for me, to remain mindful of faith, and all of life’s gifts, in the midst of all things, especially when circumstances seem dismal. (Over theyears, I modified the third quote, as led by my heart.)
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” – Heb 11:1
“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.” – Heb 10:35
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, with hope and joy and gratitude, present all your issues, dreams and desires to God.” – Phil 4:6
By the way, my mom pulled through. As time passed, her healing progressed. In less than two years, she recovered fully. In fact, in many ways she was more healthy and active than she had been before the stroke.
Faith: May you believe.