“There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter. I realize of course that joy is not expressed the same way at all times in life, especially at moments of great difficulty. Joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved.” – Pope Francis
Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten 40 day journey leading to Easter. A time of preparation, prayer, reflection, contemplation, inventory, honesty. Going deeper and farther. Into the desert. To search. To find. To thirst. To be satisfied. Less becomes more. To be quiet to hear the whisper that we are loved, infinitely. And to return the love that has been modeled so stunningly for us. Life-changing if we let it enter and move us.
“To have striven, to have made the effort, to have been true to certain ideals – this alone is worth the struggle.” – William Osler
We often get to point B before ever leaving point A. Rushing to the conclusion, we forgo the journey. We play out conversations in our head, assuming we know exactly what will be said, bypassing the chance for a real exchange.
When we put more into the effort and less into predicting the outcome, we let go of what we have no control of to start with. Give your best and the outcome will take care of itself. What others think, popularity and people pleasing are fleeting. Without regard for reward or penalty, our thoughts, actions and words should be grounded in our ideals, our authentic self.
No hesitation, no bias, no assumptions, no predictions. Do, speak, think, feel and be who you are without consideration of the results, knowing the effort will pay off. With forethought based in kindness, let your presence leave behind more than what was there before you passed through.
“Living never wore one out so much as the effort not to live.” – Anais Nin
“What goes on externally is only the tip of the iceberg in any situation. The lessons, the real changes, the opportunities to grow—these are things the body’s eyes can’t see. They remain beneath the spiritual water line, but they are there. And they represent a much more vast picture of the soul’s journey than what we can see from the perspective of our physical senses. Growth is not always about getting what we think we want. Always, it’s about becoming the men and women we have the potential to be. Loving, pure, honest, clear.” – Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love
“From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free.” – Jacques Yves Cousteau
Cast your net more deep than wide. Beneath the surface of assumptions and judgment lies compassion and kindness. The truth is below the waterline, waiting to free us to love deeper, stay longer and become who we are meant to be. Just beneath the waterline.
“Never make your home in a place. Make a home for yourself inside your own head. You’ll find what you need to furnish it – memory, friends you can trust, love of learning, and other such things. That way it will go with you wherever you journey.” – Tad Williams
Home – our true north, our center.
I’ve been gone at conference for one of our clients since 3:45 am last Tuesday morning. 14 hour days. Wonderful people. Exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. I’ve been fortunate to work with nonprofit associations for 25 years this year. This conference was the culmination of what associations are all about – a professional home of friends and family gathering in community for a common purpose. A celebration.
It’s good be home, to the girls, to family, to the place that accepts us unconditionally with open arms and paws. We are called to move out into the world. To engage. To participate. To give our best, until we have no more to give.
Yet, as we journey out, we can carry home with us and offer that gift to others as we welcome them with enthusiasm, a hug and an authentic smile. And all that is good and right about home moves into the world.
“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” – A. A. Milne
The sound of a text on the phone – a text from Linda today “Another year cancer-free. Hugs and kisses.” Today marks 15 years to the day I was called on Ash Wednesday, 1999 to be told that I had stage 3 melanoma. I had to be reminded. I forgot. She remembered. That’s what friends and family do – they remember, they celebrate, they hold up a mirror to show us the best of us – our soul, our spirit.
We remember the offenses, we remember the struggles, we remember the day and minute we get the call. We need to remember the laughter, the lessons and the steps that lead us to the many victories, the celebrations. Tonight, I had dinner with family and played a little bingo. Laughing, winning the meat raffle twice and sharing special moments that make up a good life. So as the numbers are being called, remember to yell “bingo” when you win. It’s more often than we count.
“God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.” – James M. Barrie
“I think God’s going to come down and pull civilization over for speeding.” – Steven Wright
“Love knows how to form itself. God will do his work if we do ours. Our job is to prepare ourselves for love. When we do, love finds us every time.” – Marianne Williamson
As I raced through a hectic last week to get ready for a very busy this week, I realized how much I rush through each day. To get through, to get by, to get to the next place, only to focus on the next. So instead of “preparing” for the worst, I am going to be present in each moment, trusting that I am where I am supposed to be. And instead of doing it with speed and velocity, I will embrace each encounter with enthusiasm and love.
Isn’t it awesome to be around people like that? We can be that for ourselves and others. We get what we give. Do this week with love.
“This happiness consisted of nothing else but the harmony of the few things around me with my own existence, a feeling of contentment and well-being that needed no changes and no intensification.” – Herman Hesse
When we let go of the idea that we’ll be happy when circumstances or people change, we discover true contentment doesn’t shift with the wind and resides within and right next to us in the simplicity of daily moments. We need to trust that deep well within, get into alignment with our core values and let the rest go. So much easier said than done, and often a lesson that needs to be relearned daily.
Being grateful for blessings of family and friends, reflection, rest, laughter, singing the “poochy mama” song to the girls, running with friends all get me back in the groove of living well and in the present. We’ve arrived, we just forget sometimes.
“Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love, to work, to play, and to look up at the stars.” – Henry Van Dyke
Love After Love by Derek Walcott
“The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.”
We search far and wide to find ourselves. In others, in work, across the globe, outside ourselves. Only to find that home is within us and it has been there the entire time. We are complete. Welcome home.
“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.” – Dr. Seuss
Combine imagination with a pair of sunglasses and the six foot wave of snow in my front yard transforms into waves rolling in on the beach in Malibu, Kona, Monterey Bay, Cancun (insert your favorite beach here). Surfs up.
When we are not overcome by the trivial, each day becomes “show and tell.” A simple shift and we’re laying on a beach, warm sun on our face, relaxing to the music of the ocean waves dancing on the beach. Imagine. Delight. Lighten Up.
“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
“Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life.” – Seneca
We often let the circumstances of the day define us. By the end of yesterday, the day “won.” Each day gives us the gift to begin again. To start anew. When I set the tone in the quiet of the morning, I make a conscious decision to ”make” my day. A few lines from one of Marianne Williamson’s prayers in Illuminata wacked me in the head this morning – “Thank You for my chance to begin again. Free me from the limitations of yesterday.”
Today need not be a prediction or repetition of yesterday. It is its own. Begin again and win the day.