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BE ALL IN

Emily (pianist) and Charlene


Last Friday night, between my second and third flights, during twelve hours of traveling from California to Florida, I stopped to sing in the main concourse at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, NC.

 

I almost passed by. The moving sidewalk had carried me through the main concourse, passed someone playing a piano, and brought me to the entrance of the terminal for my gate. There, something nudged at my heart and urged me to go back to the piano area instead of going forward, directly to the gate.   Read more

HOLD HOPE

Single leaf in a bird bath.

 

 


“At least one person has achieved a cure from every type of cancer.”

I heard that during my first visit to the Wellness Center in Phoenix, shortly after I had been diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma and told, “There is no cure.”

No matter what dis-ease we face,
in our physical health
or any area of live, healing is always possible.

Have hope.

Through each passage and season may we trust in the goodness of life.

WHEN SOMEONE DIES: THE BEAUTY IN DEATH

Adult holding baby's hand

Beauty? Yes. Along with deep pain and confusion, it seems to me there is awesome beauty present every time someone passes from life as we know it.

 

This is inspired by, and dedicated to, a young man named Shawn. He died in a car accident a few days ago. Tragic? Yes. Especially since he left two young sons. He will be missed by many, especially two little boys.

 

 

Shawn is not a family member of mine; he was not a close friend. I knew him more than twenty-five years ago when he himself was a little boy and lived down the street from us in Jamestown, New York. He was a school mate of my two daughters.

 

 

And yet I am deeply and directly touched today, all these years later, by Shawn and by his passing. I am seeing today how the news of Shawn’s death has shaken hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people.  Many ask, Why?! We don’t know the answer.

 

 

I like to think, to believe, that Shawn is now in a “place” where everything makes sense, where he sees how all the puzzling pieces fit together and he has compassion for all of us still struggling to understand. I do hope he is experiencing peace and joy and I am praying for his family. Words fail to address what I imagine is howling hurt for them.

 

 

The beauty I see is how, for a moment, or a few minutes, or several hours, or maybe days, life becomes precious for so many of us. We remember that our time here is limited. During the time of raw shock and hurt, masks are removed, armor is lifted, and we allow ourselves to be more vulnerable. More real.

 

 

Yes, it hurts. And yet somehow we see better. We see that life is precious.

 

 

Yes, hearts are broken and yet opened too. And there is so much love and light and reverence and compassion pouring out.

 

 

I get the sense that Shawn is smiling as he sees so much caring and kindness among so many people now. I imagine him saying, “Yes! Yes, everyone. That is what it’s all about! Love yourself! Love one another. Love life!”

 

 

I hear you, Shawn. Thank you. Bless you. Bless your family, your dear children. May they be gently carried and cradled now by Love Itself.

 

Life is precious.

 

 

Why can’t we live with this awareness all the time? At least in more of our time here?

 

 

What if, every morning, we say to ourselves, “This could be my last day here. This could be the last day of life for one of my loved ones?”  Without becoming morbid or fearful, how might we remind ourselves, every day, that life is precious? How do we choose to live well each day, with gratitude, compassion, and reverence for all life?

FAITH IN THE MIDST OF LIFE’S STORMS

Tree limbs in a storm

I was recently on vacation with my husband at Sanibel Island, Florida. It was not the week of swimming, shelling, and strolling that we had been eagerly anticipating. Tropical Storm Debby arrived the same day that we did. Although we didn’t get to do most of the things we had planned, it turned out to be a truly lovely vacation, in part because, like all of life’s storms, my appreciation for life’s gifts deepened as I weathered that one.

 

During  that week, I was often reminded how the wind is like faith. We can’t see it directly but we can see its effects in our lives.

Flower petals after storm

 

During respites from rain, I went out and looked for beauty. I found it in many places, including the way leaves, limbs, and flowers were strewn about by the wind. For example, I came upon a floral arrangement in a bird bath, designed by nature.

 

Faith - Beach after storm During a walk on the beach after the storm, I came upon a little “bridge” that was formed by two limbs placed side-by-side by wave action. To me, that seemed like nature’s encouragement to step up, cross over, and begin something new, with courage.

 

No matter what is happening in the outer world–whatever the weather–we can experience joy. We can find beauty. We can open our hearts to love and compassion. We can listen for guidance from the voice of wisdom.

SPILLED MILK?

Milk spilled on table

Accidents happen. Every mishap is an opportunity to learn something and to grow in compassion, hope, and wisdom.

To help relieve upset about a mistake, find a beneficial use for it. Responding with care and creativity is a great way to help children stay calm and confident during blunders.  It also nurtures their self-worth and builds resourcefulness.

For example, spilled milk can be used to get ink stains from clothes, clean plant leaves, repair cracked china, polish silverware, soothe insect bites, and even make cool “milk art.”

 

What’s “milk art”?  Try this and see. Suction or wipe up the spilled milk and squeeze it into a bowl. Drop food dye of various colors one-by-one on to the center, on top of each another. Top that off with a drop of dish detergent, and watch what happens. Enjoy the magical swirl. Promise your children that you’ll do it again on purpose, without having to wait for a spill, or future milk spills might not be accidents!

If you don’t have children, consider doing this for yourself. 

Life is good. Use your gifts and live well each day.  

Color swirls in milk.

AMISH GRACE

Amish Rocker

Years ago, I lived in western New York, not far from an Amish settlement. Whenever I saw their horse-drawn buggies, I felt prompted to simplify things in my own life. An Amish rocker I bought back then continues to be one of my present-day touchstones for beauty, reverence, and compassion.

 

 So when I recently came across the film Amish Grace, I was eager to see it.

 

 The film is a fictionalized portrayal of what happened in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, on October 2, 2006. On that day, a troubled man, who was not Amish, entered the one-room Amish school there, shot 10 girls, and then killed himself. Five of those girls died immediately or soon afterwards. Five were seriously wounded.

 

 The focus of Amish Grace is not on the violence but on what happened in the aftermath of the massacre.

 

 In the film we see that, on the very same day of the horrific event, three Amish men go to the gunman’s home and offer condolences to the gunman’s widow and her family. They express concern for her young children. They tell her that they hold no grudge or judgment against her. They forgive her husband. They even offer to help.

The world watches in amazement. Reporters ask, “Is the forgiveness real? Or is it an act? If it’s real, how can it be?”

 

 Watching the film, we learn that the forgiveness was real. We learn that the Amish forgive because, from early childhood, they are taught, by biblical readings and example, that they must forgive. But, forgiveness does not always come easily, even for the Amish. In fact, the main character repeatedly screams that she cannot–and will not–forgive the murder of her daughter. It is not until that mother learns that her daughter died showing kindness toward the gunman and praying for him that the mother is able to let go of hating the murderer.

 Another powerful scene is when a young girl declares that she too hates the man who did it. Her father patiently inquires about how the hate feels. “Does it feel good inside?” he asks his daughter.

 

 “Not very good,” the child answers.

 

 The father then teaches his daughter about hate and its consequences. First, he acknowledges the hate that she feels. He makes room for it. Only after showing acceptance and understanding of his daughter’s feelings does he go on to describe how “hate is a big thing with sharp teeth. It will eat up your whole heart and leave no room for love.”

 

 As I watched that scene, I understood: Hate can eat up our hearts and leave no room for loving.

 

 For our own health and happiness, we must forgive. And with grace, we can.

 

LET WISDOM POINT THE WAY

Cairn Pointing the Way

                                                                                                                                                                      Questioning? Looking for direction? Open your gifts and let wisdom point the way. Watch for inner and outer signs today.

 

 

NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE

Daisies on a beach

“Nothing is impossible,” Audrey Hepburn said. “The word itself says, ‘I’m possible.” Watch for new growth and new life everywhere, with hope.

IT’S NOT EASY BEING GREEN

Frog

Ever feel like Kermit or this Mr. Froggy? Like it’s not easy being you? No, “It’s not easy being green,” as the song goes… or beige or brown or blue. When feeing down, remember your sweet gift of compassion. Open it for yourself. Compassion doesn’t make life easy but it does help to make everything easier…  and beautiful too.

 

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY

Wildflowers

 

 

Live free. Live strong. Be like a weed–a flower that refuses to grow in rows. Bloom your strength, courage, and beauty. Be you.