“Every problem has in it the seeds of its own solution. If you don’t have any problems, you don’t get any seeds.” – Norman Vincent Peale
“The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances. We carry the seeds of the one or the other about with us in our minds wherever we go.” – Martha Washington
The ground has softened, the grass turning green and the temperatures are in the 60s. Winter is bowing out and welcoming spring to the stage, front and center. Seeds ready to be planted. And so are you. What seeds are you planting in your mind, heart and spirit now?
It’s planting time, so start today. Plant seeds of hope, joy, optimism, discovery, gratitude, abundance, laughter, wonder and possibility.
“Each moment is perfect and heaven-sent, in that each moment holds the seeds for growth.” – Suzan-Lori Parks
Hope over fear.
Love over hate.
Joy over despair.
Light over darkness.
Peace over turmoil.
Kindness over spite.
Empathy over self.
Generosity over hoarding.
Ease over struggle.
Silence over noise.
Confidence over questioning.
Awe over indifference.
Deep over shallow.
Us over me.
Mystery over understanding.
Gratitude over complaint.
Rest over tumult.
Acceptance over shame.
Sweet over bitter.
Wonder over knowing.
Awake over sleep.
Slow over rushed.
Heaven over hell.
Present over past.
Present over future.
All is overcome today.
Resurrection over the Cross.
The playbook for living today already written.
The last word.
Knees to ground.
“Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.” – Albert Einstein
“Every day that is born into the world comes like a burst of music and rings the whole day through, and you make of it a dance, a dirge, or a life march, as you will.” – Thomas Carlyle
Allow the anticipation, the awe and the joy to enter, to become Easter people filled with hope, peace and optimism. Like a symphony when all of the instruments merge, intertwine and come together in beautiful music that lifts the very soul, take the enormity of Easter in. Open your arms, be held and hold it close. The last of winter may be hanging on a bit longer, but spring never misses its turn and summer stands in waiting.
Make each day a dance, a burst, a celebration. Easter shows us how.
No pictures. Few words. This day. This Good Friday. This day is no ordinary day. My words cannot suffice, serve or go deep enough for the enormity and sheer relevance of this non-ordinary day – the day when, where and how Jesus saved the world from itself. This day is no ordinary day.
The one hymn by Mahalia Jackson that brings me to my very knees, to the core of being – a place where we need to spend more time – Where You There When They Crucified My Lord. Every single day, when I don’t notice another, when I judge and criticize, when I gossip, when I’m impatient and absent of empathy – I am there at the crucifixion. We need a bit more trembling.
“Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh, were you there when they crucified my Lord? (Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble) tremble
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they nailed him to the cross? Were you there when they nailed him to the cross? (Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble) tremble Were you there when they nailed him to the cross?
(Were you there when they laid him in the tomb? Were you there when they laid him in the tomb? Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble) tremble Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Well, were you there when the stone was rolled away? Were you there when the stone was rolled away? (Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble) tremble Were you there when the stone was rolled away?”
Crucified. Nailed. Laid in the tomb. Stone rolled away.
From crucifixion to rolling the stone three days later. I not only ponder and reverence the suffering of Jesus but of Peter who denied his best friend and Judas who blew it big time for 30 silver coins and could not accept forgiveness and redemption, and of Mary and the women who remained at the foot of the cross in angst, without fear and unmoved. No judgment or consternation, rather a prayer for rapt awareness, deep awakening and grace beyond human understanding to move through to the other side, to the high road, to the open space few are interested in occupying.
Today is the climax of Lent – the ultimate, unimaginable, unfathomable and undeserved, unearned pivot into the most important and relevant third act that changes the world even and especially today – the resurrection, the butterfly, the harvest. Stay in the crucifixion long enough to make it stick, to change your daily life and focus. The ending is the resurrection, the changing forever, the transformation of our very life in this moment and beyond.
In our lifetime, there has been no more relevant, sacred and holy Lent. Breathe it in. Be overwhelmed and overcome by the enormity. And open your arms wide to the mystery of the Cross. We are Easter people only through the suffering and transformation of Good Friday first.
No ordinary day, indeed. Take. It. In. 3 days. Prepare. Accept. Enter.
“When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator.” – Mahatma Gandhi
“One hour of life, crowded to the full with glorious action, and filled with noble risks, is worth whole years of those mean observances of paltry decorum, in which men steal through existence, like sluggish waters through a marsh, without either honor or observation.” – Walter Scott
When is the last time that you used the word glorious? The brilliance of a full moon after a warm Spring day. The song of Good Morning from the sun returning to begin a new day. The smile of a child. The excitement of a dog chasing a ball. All simple, daily glorious gifts. We are abundantly blessed. Count what you do have right now rather than what’s missing.
Here are a few other words to add to your vocabulary – delight, awe, quiet, praise, reflection, patience, generosity, kindness, gratitude and grace which will get us through to the other side. While we’re on this side of uncertainty and fear, we can choose joy over misery while we wait in hope. Whether in misery or joy, we will arrive at the same destination. It’s just a matter of deciding how you want to move through the journey. I’m choosing joy. It’s a much better car to travel in.
“My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time. – Steve Jobs
No matter the circumstances, we have a choice to lean in or bury our head, to smile or frown, to embrace or shun, to hold tight or let go. It is your choice. Suffering is optional.
Find and hold those people and things that rock your world and never let them go. They are here to show us the way. Hold tight through the storms.
We are so much bigger than the storms and stronger than the waves. Keep afloat, head up and find joy in today. For that is all we are promised. From Blake flying high to Liam’s morning zoom calls as my favorite remote worker, to Como Conservatory from the outside looking in to Sasha (Samoyed) and Abby (Golden Retriever) running full throttle through the woods on a spring, cloudy day, SEIZE this very moment and hold tight to your favorite things. Blessings in disguise.
“No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.” – William Penn
As we enter this Holy Week from Palm Sunday to Good Friday to Easter, this Lent 2020 will be one to be remembered forever as we’ve walked it out through the bearing of our own crosses of a worldwide pandemic. Fear, uncertainty, stress, boredom, “unprecedented times” for our time at least.
I’d like to say that I’ve spent the last 40 days studying the Bible, in hours of praying the rosary. I haven’t. But I have felt God’s presence daily rather than just on Sunday’s for an hour. Much of the time has been spent reflecting on me and my life to now and where it should be, in dozens of meetings to keep work going and planning for the other side, clearing clutter and preparing the house for painting so new floors can be installed and getting outside a lot with the dogs. In sum, the past days have been about me and the impact of COVID-19 on my life and those who I love.
Self-reflection is the point of Lent. To look within, take inventory, be quiet, reflect, repent, forgive, embrace and prepare for the third day of resurrection, of becoming a new person, our best self that already exists and is being called out to play and stay. The “end-game” of Lent is to die to self and to accept the grace and mercy of the cross, of resurrection and new life. To let go of old ways, to strengthen our compassion, forgiveness and empathy muscles to flex them with the world like never before. To realize that we are and always have been held and carried by God. In carrying our own crosses, we get but a glimpse of what Jesus accomplished and offered up by dying on the cross for us. Now that’s really living out Lent.
This Lent has been our own collective invitation to enter silence, let go of fear and control, to change our priorities, to love deeper and hug longer. In boredom, in struggle, in loneliness, in the desert, we are being transformed, the cocoon to butterfly, the seed to bloom, from thirst to hydration. And just as winter always turns to spring, Lent always turns to Easter. Resurrection, changed, new and never to return to our old selves. Muted colors become brilliant. Flowers more fragrant. Gratitude for what already is within us deepened.
This has been a holy, sacred season. Reflect on the lessons during this Holy Week, read the passion of Christ – from the last supper, to 30 silver coins, to being denied by his best friend three times followed by the cock crowing, to the agony of being nailed to a cross. And 3 days later, the stone rolled away from the tomb to resurrection. We are truly living out Lent this year on this journey. And as we grieve the dying to our old self, prepare to be overwhelmed with the transformation to who we are meant to be – Easter people, filled with hope, love, trust, joy and faith.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
“Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you – for you alone? He burns with the desire to come into your heart.” – St. Therese’ of Lisieux
“We give glory to You, Lord, who raised up Your cross to span the jaws of death like a bridge by which souls might pass from the region of the dead to the land of the living. We give glory to You who put on the body of a single mortal man and made it the source of life for every other mortal man.” – St. Ephrem of Edessa
God, who carries us and is in control despite our best efforts to take over;
The value of community and need for connection, even for an introvert like me;
Hugs from family and friends;
The brilliant blue sky and the warmth of the sun;
Conversations over dinner out;
The resilience, fortitude and grit of the human spirit;
Long stretches of open space and time and to do something with it;
Our capacity for creativity and need to pursue it daily;
The power of hope, faith, trust, optimism and laughter;
The journey within to listen to my own voice;
The brevity, fragility and value of life.
I will always remember to…
Hug family and friends a minute longer;
Weave slow, quiet time into each day so busy and noise don’t take over again;
Never look back and be open to new beginnings and endings;
Be deeply grateful for all of the blessings and gifts that are already present;
Lead with kindness and empathy rather than judgment and assumptions;
Check in on others to make sure that they are really alright;
Pursue purpose and calling;
Be a better listener;
Sleep without an alarm more often;
Quit complaining and enjoy what already is;
Keep the clutter clear and stop buying stuff;
Listen to music, read and write poetry, appreciate art;
Let go of the past, be immersed fully in each day and to not get too far into the future;
Keep trying new things and always be willing to be a beginner ready to learn and grow;
Write in a journal every single morning;
Pray in the good times too;
Keep going for long runs and extra walks with the girls;
Laugh more and lighten up;
Make the most of the days that remain;
And to always play hopscotch when given the opportunity.
There is certainty. Don’t let all of the commercials and media distort your perspective. There is certainty, principles and truth that anchor and center us through all of the storms in our life, including this right now.
Here’s my list of certainty that’s becoming more clear and vivid through the “uncertainty” of this time.
It’s going to be alright and we will break through to the other side, to security, to awareness, to transformation, to new life. There is more certainty than uncertainty, despite what the commercials say. We are anchored in truth, light, God, faith, friendships, family and connection.
No pandemic will defeat the human spirit. Rise up, connect, laugh, love and lighten up during this heavy season. There is no room or necessity for doom and gloom. We are overcomers, strong, resilient and faithful warriors. Cling to truth and let the storms pass. We’ve got this people! Rise up, let go and enter this holy, sacred space. We are being held and loved through this. Rest in it and believe. One real raw Lent. Easter is coming. Resurrection time! Certainty over uncertainty and fear. Every. Single. Time. Three round knock out. Keep swinging.
These are extraordinary times AND we are extraordinary souls. Dig in and reach out.
“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all.” Emily Dickinson
“All human wisdom is summed up in two words; wait and hope.” – Alexandre Dumas
Non-stop news, hundreds of emails and resource centers on COVID-19, dozens of commercials on “uncertain times” and “we’re all in this together.” Others are trying to help, to create order from chaos, to figure it out.
We are all in this together, but each person is unique so don’t assume all are handling this time in the same way. Check in on colleagues, friends and family every day. Give yourself a break, stop trying to figure out much past today and know that it’s OK to not be OK. There are tough moments and struggles so be kind and gentle with yourself and others.
Move beyond fear and uncertainty. Surrender and succumb to HOPE. We will get to the #otherside!
Hope carries us, pushes us to keep going, holds up a mirror to our resilience, transcends the rational and sparks joy independent of circumstances.