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Lessons in Joy

“We’re put here on Earth to learn our own lessons. No one can tell you what your lessons are; it is part of your personal journey to discover them. On these journeys we may be given a lot, or just a little bit, of the things we must grapple with, but never more than we can handle.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

“The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.” – Henri Nouwen

How we go through is more important than what we go through. The past four months have certainly tested our resolve, resilience and grit. Accept the gift of grace, embrace the hope that is proven with the fullness of time and apply the lessons of joy.

The clearing is ahead. Until then, keep the faith and learn the lessons, the lasting ones that change us forever, that transform, that create new life.

Joy over despair. Hope over angst. Clearing at the end and beginning of the journey.

“If we are always arriving and departing, it is also true that we are eternally anchored. One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.” – Henry Miller

The Path

“The feeling remains that God is on the journey, too.” – Saint Teresa of Avila

Some of the path is paved. Much needs to be broken. May we keep moving down the path with our eye on moving through, moving on and reaching new destinations that come from forward motion. No looking back but only to not return. Eyes ahead, open to new paths, to new discoveries, to new self.

Journey Into The Interior
by Theodore Roethke

In the long journey out of the self,

There are many detours, washed-out interrupted raw places

Where the shale slides dangerously

And the back wheels hang almost over the edge

At the sudden veering, the moment of turning.

Better to hug close, wary of rubble and falling stones.

The arroyo cracking the road, the wind-bitten buttes, the canyons,

Creeks swollen in midsummer from the flash-flood roaring into the narrow valley.

Reeds beaten flat by wind and rain,

Grey from the long winter, burnt at the base in late summer.

— Or the path narrowing,

Winding upward toward the stream with its sharp stones,

The upland of alder and birchtrees,

Through the swamp alive with quicksand,

The way blocked at last by a fallen fir-tree,

The thickets darkening,

The ravines ugly.

Rain

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” – Rabindranath Tagore

“The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The sky opened and the rain poured out in heavy sheets. A mile out with the dogs guaranteed that we would get soaked and we did. It was refreshing after a hot day and a very heavy week. If only the rain could wash it all away. It did for a moment and after it let up, the sun tried to peak out from behind the clouds.

These are heavy serious days. And in the midst of the rain, we must seek the sun behind the clouds to be buoyed by hope and transformation.

And as I wrap up this day, I decided to take a break from the news, from social media and to do something frivolous by looking for a movie. And, of course, I decided Uncle Buck with John Candy was the best decision right now. Our ability to laugh, to be frivolous, reminds us to lighten up if but for a few hours and rediscover our capacity for joy.

Setting and Rising

“You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lines. You may trod me in the very dirt, but still, like dust, I’ll rise.” – Maya Angelou

“Love is like a virus. It can happen to anybody at any time.” – Maya Angelou

May we all be blessed enough to catch the virus of love. To never succumb to the darkness. To seize the light and ensure that we cast the light broad and deep to cultivate hope, joy and peace. That is the only worthy thing to cling to, to aspire to, to work for. Be kind. Change hearts, change the world.

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” – Maya Angelou

 

Real Peace

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27

“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” – Buddha

May we be quiet.
May we listen.
May we reach out.
May we seek truth.
May we be gentle.
May we pursue justice.
May we seek peace.
Real peace that changes hearts.
New day. Same prayer.

May we listen.
A peace that passes all understanding.

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.” – Francis of Assisi

Calm

“Oh, these vast, calm, measureless mountain days, days in whose light everything seems equally divine, opening a thousand windows to show us God.” – John Muir

“We must go beyond the constant clamor of ego, beyond the tools of logic and reason, to the still, calm place within us: the realm of the soul.” – Deepak Chopra

It was a beautiful warm day with sunny skies offering some moments of reprieve from the heaviness of this week as we try to prepare for tonight with thousands of anarchists coming into Minnesota to not honor George Floyd but to continue to burn and loot the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. This afternoon, Minnesotans gathered in peaceful protest to truly honor George Floyd and demand justice.

On a walk tonight before curfew, there was a calm. Flowers reminded me of joy and beauty which is not in the forefront right now but remains and offers hope. When we enter calm and honest conversation, we can learn the timeless lessons of love and understanding. Praying for calm tonight.

“You practice mindfulness, on the one hand, to be calm and peaceful. On the other hand, as you practice mindfulness and live a life of peace, you inspire hope for a future of peace.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

The Sixth Stage

“Faith is trust in ultimate meaning.” – Viktor E. Frankl

In 1969, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ wrote the classic book On Death and Dying which defined the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. And the journey is not a linear or orderly trip. We go from one to the next and bounce back and forth, doing the best we can in the moment.

I’ve returned to the stages many times when losing loved ones, which has happened a lot in the past four years. Recently, I’ve been reflecting on the stages with loss of “normal” life that has come with COVID-19 and now with George Floyd’s horrific death in Minneapolis followed by riots, burning and destruction of over 170 buildings/neighborhood businesses in St. Paul and Minneapolis. It’s heavy and difficult to string together words that can adequately describe the sorrow and angst.

David Kessler who co-authored On Grief and Grieving with Kübler-Ross has written a new book Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief, adding a sixth stage of grief – meaning. Finding meaning takes time, fortitude and distance. We are deep in a lot of anger.

May we not succumb to despair and fear. With hope and grace, meaning will come to open our hearts to love rather than hate, empathy over apathy, light rather than darkness. Peace starts within each one of us. Start there and then move out into the world.

“I know for sure that loves saves me and that it is here to save us all.” – Maya Angelou

Hope

“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

“Just as despair can come to one only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings.” – Elie Wiesel

When humanity fails again and again, when hatred is loud, drown it out with love, understanding, listening, hope, justice, empathy, kindness, compassion, light and peace. Soften to feel the pain of others. Be kind.

“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.” – Leonardo da Vinci

The Rainbow

“Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life. The evening beam that smiles the clouds away, and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray.” – Lord Byron

“I’m continually inspired by nature, and the rainbow is one of nature’s greatest optical phenomenons. The sighting of a rainbow never fails to bring a smile to people’s faces. They signify optimism and positivity: with them comes the sunshine after the rain.” – Matthew Williamson

Suddenly, a rainbow peeked out of the clouds but for a few minutes. Brilliant hues of color, of hope, a whisper, “it’s going to be alright, breathe, trust, believe.”

As Dorothy discovered on her journey to Oz, joy, purpose and destiny are within us, not in some far off land. Return to yourself, to home in this very moment.

Find the rainbows and never, never, ever give up, ever. Trust in the waiting and wandering.

Over the Rainbow
by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg

“Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high
And the dreams that you dream of
Once in a lullaby

Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly
And the dreams that you dream of
Dreams really do come true

Someday, I wish upon a star
Wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where trouble melts like lemon drops
High above the chimney top
That’s where you’ll find me

Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly
And the dreams that you dare to
Oh why, oh why can’t I?”

 

Majestic

“Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together; that at length they may emerge, full-formed and majestic, into the delight of life, which they are thenceforth to rule.” – Thomas Carlyle

The day before, the eagle swooped down low, wings open, floating on air with majesty. The next morning, he watched in the tree as the lake was smooth as glass, still and peaceful. Nature’s gifts are plenty, a generous spirit that demands awe and delight, majestic and steady whether in the storm or in the calm.

“There’s something overwhelming about being in raw nature. It’s got an aura about it is that is really kind of majestic and spiritual.” – Christopher Lloyd

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