“Almost every hour of every day, we’ll find ourselves in a situation where we can be now who we weren’t before, because we know now what we didn’t know before. And from this newness in our being springs fresh opportunities we could never have imagined. God specializes in new beginnings.” – Marianne Williamson
“Love makes the world less worldly, less dense, more transparent to the divine dimension, the light of consciousness itself.” – Eckhart Tolle
Easter shouts for joy and proclaims the promise of new beginnings and everlasting life. As the sun burns off the fog, there’s a new clarity and vision. We do not walk alone and road ahead need not be defined by miles gone by. Forge ahead confident, open to receiving the gift of awesome possibilities beyond your imagination.
Yesterday was one of those frustrating days when I wanted to throw my hands up in the air, give up and walk away. Tired of the battle to bend, accommodate, cave, give in. Games, politics, egos. This morning with some rest and much needed perspective, throwing my hands up is exactly what I should do. Give up and let go of my expectations and demands of the way I think it should be. Opening my arms to trust God’s plan rather than my own and release the rest of it. Following the path of unknowing, knowing that I will not be lead astray.
On Good Friday, we have a tremendous model of open arms, stretched out on a cross suffering unbearable anguish and humiliation all in sacrifice and service for others, for us. And while we have our share of crosses in this life, none compare to the depth and all encompassing weight of the cross borne today.
Good Friday is an ever comforting reminder that we are never alone on our journey and that we are loved and understood deeply. And when we let go, those things we think that will break us actually are put in their proper place and we are broken free from the unimportant. Our limited view expands to one of awesome peace, saving grace and gratitude. Easter always comes. Arms wide open.
“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.” – Francis of Assisi
The one year anniversary of the Boston Marathon terrorist bombings; a former KKK member and racist kills three people outside two Jewish facilities in Kansas City the night before Passover; Judas betrays Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.
As darkness shows itself through unfathomable acts of hatred and evil, the story always has the same ending. Love wins the day. Healing comes with time. Hearts soften to start to beat again. Heroes rise and show us how to live stronger, filled with hope despite it all.
“It is not only for what we do that we are held responsible, but also for what we do not do.” – Moliere
Words unsaid. Deeds undone. Forgiveness held back. Talents buried. Regret is most often found in the midst of what we choose not to do. As this week leads to Easter, to redemption and the gift of grace, we can be jolted out of our complacency to live better, more deeply and with great joy.
Say more, do more, forgive more and become who you are meant to be.
“If small things have the power to disturb you, then who you think you are is exactly that: small.” – Eckhart Tolle
Try as we may, we sweat the small stuff. Those people that cause the most consternation only have an impact because we give them permission, even though we know better. We often become that which we try to avoid. Instead of getting the last word in or a flip remark, choose your words and silence carefully. Often silence is the better option.
Each day, we must choose between our authentic self or our conforming self. And if we have a nagging feeling inside, we’ve chosen to conform. Instead of grand gestures, we can simply offer the subtleness of a gentle tone, the gift of civility and eye contact with a smile that says, “I’m listening.”
Cast light and worry not of the darkness around you. It’s longing for light too.
“To know yourself as the Being underneath the thinker, the stillness underneath the mental noise, the love and joy underneath the pain, is freedom, salvation, enlightenment.” – Eckhart Tolle
“We do not need more intellectual power, we need more spiritual power. We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen.” – Calvin Coolidge
At first glance, Salvador Dali’s Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea is a naked woman looking out a window. A longer look reveals that the window is the shape of a cross and even closer, the crucifixion of Christ. There are several other elements, layers and meanings throughout the painting. And by stepping back 20 meters, a portrait of Abraham Lincoln suddenly appears. Layers on layers, depth, dimension, the picture in the picture, the unseen unfolds right in front of us.
When we realize that there’s so much that we don’t see, our world of people and places brightens and deepens, a story to be told and heard. Instead of seeing through eyes filtered by the past, judgment or assumption, we can look longer from different angles, asking questions to pursue what’s beneath the facade. In each of us, the unseen is waiting to be uncovered, revealed, shared, honored and asked to come out and play.
“Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting our vision.” –Salvador Dali
The Dali Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida
“To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts – such is the duty of the artist.” – Robert Schumann.
Art grounds us and lifts us at the same time. It pulls us from our limited view to show possibilities, beauty, hope, depth, our true selves once again. It can be found all around us each day.
While I was at a conference this week in St. Petersburg, I found art walking along the water at sunrise, on the street past the Chihuly glass exhibit and at an event at the Dali Art Museum. I found it in conversation with peers, in sessions learning something new and in being in a different place if but for a short time to break the monotony and familiarity we build into our daily lives to keep us “safe.” It’s all around us ready to open our mind but more importantly our heart. To feel, to be jolted, to be thankful, to see light.
“Grace is not part of consciousness; it is the amount of light in our souls, not knowledge nor reason.” – Pope Francis
In the Thornton Wilder play, The Skin of Our Teeth, when the main character George Antrobus is asked what he has lost, he says “the desire to begin again,” noting that it’s the most important thing in life. Each day and every day, we have the opportunity to begin again.
Oftentimes, we allow a few “bad” moments to take our entire day or even week hostage. When we honestly reflect on those days, we realize that there was so much more good in them, but we let the bad trump the good.
By the end of Friday, I had a series of encounters with people demanding me to do what they wanted because it was the most important thing ever. And instead of letting it roll off my back, I let it get to me. 24 hours, a seven mile run and the gift of grace put the “world” back into proper order. And despite the critics, I am going to begin again.
A few definitions of grace include “beauty of form” and “unmerited favor of God.” It’s both really – God giving you the ease and strength to maintain your beauty of form when you don’t feel like it at all.
Grace is the ability to be quiet instead of reacting with our first selfish thought. To choose light over dark. To edify rather than criticize. To let others do what they do and not let it sway your resolve. To let go of the need to be right. It’s a real change of heart that allows us to choose compassion, empathy and love when it’s counterintuitive. It’s aligning our thoughts and heart with our actions. And in order to do all of this, we need the gift of grace and the peace that passes all understanding to intervene to make the seemingly impossible, possible.
Grace comes again to save the day.
“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau
“Time is only that we may find God.” – St. Bernard
We live in parts and pieces, fragments really. As we swiftly move through the day with thoughts racing to what’s next, we miss the depth and breadth, the fullness. We accept defeat and despair without question. We owe the same to joy and hope.
We are not broken, we are whole. Life is not lacking, it’s full and overflowing with wonder, beauty and bounty. Slow down. Step back. Breath it in. Leave the valley, ascend the hill and see the mighty expanse, the big picture.
All of the pieces and fragments weave together to make up a complete life filled with blessings. We need only see what’s right in front of us, longing to be seen, felt and lived out completely. If only we dare to receive it.
“When it’s over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.” – Mary Oliver
As I waited for my oil to be changed and tires to be rotated, a gentleman sat down next to me on the bench. My head was down looking at my phone. He started a conversation about his son and football. I had the sense to put my phone aside and engage in the conversation for 10 minutes, even though he was a Packer fan (Viking jealousy). Small talk really, but he kept the conversation going, so I did as well.
A simple human exchange that makes you feel human again. What we pay attention to becomes our life, creating depth or mere speed, sometimes a mix of both. If we bring our head up long enough to pay attention, we find a world overflowing with vibrant color and filled with simple conversations that mean more than we know. Be amazed and embrace your life today, for that is all we are promised.
“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” – Mary Oliver