Author Archive

ROCK MY SOUL

 

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.

 

Rock My Soul Rock my soul in the bosom of Abraham…

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.

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.

SAMSUNG That 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.  

WHEN DESPAIR AND FEAR GROW: REST IN THE GRACE OF THE WORLD

three cranes at pond “When despair for the world grows in me…
I rest in the grace of the world, and I am free.”   

                 – Wendell Berry

 

In The Peace of Wild Things,
poet Wendell Berry shares the power
that nature holds for him. 

 

 

When he fears what the future might hold 
for him and his children,
he goes to “where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water,
and the great heron feeds.”

In the midst of the world’s business and busyness,
whether we go in reality or in our imagination,
let’s often bring ourselves 
to a place where we can be soothed, healed, and uplifted     
by the grace of the natural world.
May we rest in beauty and peace, and faith too,
with reverence for life as a touchstone. 

WORTHINESS AND THE WIZARD OF OZ

YOU ARE WORTHY I 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.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY

Mothers Day

 

“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!

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. 

THE STRENGTH THAT IS IN US, THE GIFT THAT IS LIFE

Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing this photo of a tree growing in the gutter.

 

Tree Growing in Gutter It is a visual touchstone for

the strength that is in us,

the strength that is life,

the beauty that is in us,

the beauty that is life,

the courage that is in us,

the courage that is life,

the hope that is in us,

the hope that is life,

the gifts that are in us,

the gift that is life.

 

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. 

LET US PRAY

Prayer Candle For the victims of violence.



For all who hurt.



For healing.



For peace.



May we pray. 

ERROR THINKING: A LESSON FROM SEDONA’S SUNRISE TRAIL

After walking the labyrinth and circling the perimeter around St. John Vianney Church in Sedona, I crossed Soldier Pass Road to hike on the Sunrise Trail.

 

My thoughts were of Lucky, a relative who had recently died. Lucky loved Sedona, especially the grounds of that church. Thoughts of Lucky led me to reflect on all my family members and friends who had passed from this world.

 

Gregg Buckthorn I was still thinking of the deceased when I started on the Sunrise Trail. Shortly into the walk, I noticed a sign with the name “Gregg” and “the Buckthorn Family.”

 

Although I had not known him, I wondered about Gregg and the Buckthorn family that had placed this commemorative marker on the trail. Perhaps Gregg was a man who showed deep reverence for nature.

 

My thoughts moved in a new direction as my gazed lifted beyond the close-at-hand scenery out to the wide Red Rock vista while I walked on.

 

After a few more steps, my focus came back to the sights along the trail. I noticed another marker. This one said “The Cashew Family.”

 

I laughed out loud when I realized that the bronze plates I had seen were not to honor people who had died; they were there to identify plants along the trail!

 

It’s funny, sometimes, how our existing thought patterns can lead us to false conclusions.   

 

The truth is that we all engage in error thinking quite often. And it is usually not funny.

 

Besides coming to wrong conclusions, as I had on the Sunrise Trail, we all hold limiting and false beliefs about ourselves and the world.

 

For example, we might belief that we have to be perfect in order to be valuable and lovable. We might believe that others must see things our way and admit that we are “right.” We might believe it is a sign of weakness to say, “I don’t know.”

 

What can we do about error thinking?

 

We can be willing to see from other perspectives. We can be willing to see shades of grey instead of just black and white. We can notice when we assume what others are feeling. We can stop comparing ourselves with others. If we find ourselves thinking that we, or others, are not “good enough,” we can let go of negative judgments.

 

Red Rock Panorama Even though error thinking is usually not funny, we can look for some humor in it. Whether or not we chuckle, we can always practice compassion, expand our thinking, and appreciate more of life’s panorama.