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Posts from the ‘Faith’ Category

Inside Out

“Look to the lilies how they grow!” – David Macbeth Moir

Like many public spaces, Como Conservatory is locked down. We often run/walk by to see if the windows are cracked so we can peer inside to see the beautiful flowers and breathe in the fragrance. Outside looking in.

Flowers, nature, friends, families, dogs, prayers, long walks and runs, music, poetry, fresh air are sources of light that have always filled us up. Our awareness of these blessings is more vivid now. Accept the good and the challenging days as they come anchored in hope. Find joy in ordinary moments, not looking too far back or too far ahead.

Look inside yourself with mercy and grace, see the beautiful flowers, take a deep breathe. Each one of us is doing the very best we can in this moment. It’s the first pandemic in our lifetime so there’s no script on how it should work. We have the strength, resilience and capacity to get to the other side so keep going, no matter what!

One of my favorite poems is Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese:

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

Perspective

“Because of the dog’s joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift. It is not the least reason why we should honor as well as love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs not yet born. What would the world be like without music or rivers or the green and tender grass? What would this world be like without dogs?” ― Mary Oliver, Dog Songs

“Pray thee, spare, thyself at times: for it becomes a wise man sometimes to relax the high pressure of his attention to work.” – Thomas Aquinas

When we settle in and settle down, allowing relaxation to restore and rejuvenate, we gain new perspective. A shift, a turn of the head and the world becomes new from the inside out. Don’t waste days wallowing, wading and willowing. Rest up, look up and relax. It’s all good and going to be good with the fullness of time. In the meantime, let go and relax.

This public service announcement is brought to you by my life coaches Abby and Sasha – the model fun makers and relaxation queens. Lighten up, it makes the journey so much sweeter.

“We will be more successful in all our endeavors if we can let go of the habit of running all the time, and take little pauses to relax and re-center ourselves. And we’ll also have a lot more joy in living.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

“To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.” – Alan Watts

Simple. Real. Optimism.

“Where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.” – Anne Frank

“I must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I shall be able to carry them out.” – Anne Frank

Today lived up to its Monday-level reputation. The rush, the rally of activity disguised as strategy. Noise to fill the open space. Optimism is hard. It’s rigor, discipline and fluid. We need to be open to having sucky, shitty days and know that they are few and far between, letting them happen so they can pass like a kidney stone. Honest and real today, unapologetic. And it all reveals the most important strategy that we must execute consistently – simple. real. optimism with a side of hope. Optimism is the only real and sustainable option worthy of our passion and pursuit.

As I concluded the day with a walk in the woods, sharing the same sucky day stories with my best friends – one human, two dogs, two beautiful deer appeared in the woods feeding on some leaves, unassuming, unfraid and at ease. God’s brilliant reminder that He’s got this, so settle in for the ride. It’s quite simple, keep it that way.

Tomorrow – a clean slate, another day. Simple. Real. Optimism.

“In the long run, the sharpest weapon of all is a kind and gentle spirit.” – Anne Frank

Craft

“When a work lifts your spirits and inspires bold and noble thoughts in you, do not look for any other standard to judge by: the work is good, the product of a master craftsman.” – Jean de la Bruyere

In two days, I’ve watched one quiet craftsman tear out linoleum, laminate and carpet and piece together new vinyl plank flooring throughout my first floor. One person in rapt attention, in flow and in craft. An art and science. An ease and flow. It’s informative and directive of how we rebuild, design and craft our future. We may not know the pieces in this moment. Unknowing and mystery are gifts in disguise, revelation, if we enter with new eyes.

Embrace the mystery, allure, fullness and emptiness of this very moment of unknowing and uncertainty to discover how the pieces, the planks, the puzzle fit together. Sense comes from chaos. Order from uncertainty. Wait, hope and hold tight. Craftsmanship – the art and science of building from disparate pieces that create the whole which is always revealed in due time.

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” – Pablo Picasso

Yesterday

“A man of courage is also full of faith.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero

“Today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness.” Kalidasa

Since March 20th, I’ve been writing in a journal every morning to capture this rare time (I’m not calling it unprecedented and uncertain – obvious, overused and meaningless). I put the date on each entry and often have to look at my phone to remind me what day it is. It is easy to get lost in these wandering and over-zoomed days.

This morning, I didn’t need to be reminded of what day it was. I knew it. Four years ago, my Dad passed away. I was in a plane coming back from a work trip to Boston and didn’t make it in time. Not one single day has gone by since that I have not missed him. I often want to pick up the phone and have a conversation with him, like I did every day for the past several decades. I think of the conversations that we’d have right now about these days. But I don’t have to go too far to know what he would think or say. He remains in my heart, I hear him in my own phrases and thoughts. He’s a part of my fabric and being. He and my Mom planted, fostered and grew faith, grit and strength in me, my brother and sister. Three solid traits to get through these days. Optimism is too.

So today, I ask each of you to do me one favor. Stop, call your Mom and Dad if they are still here and tell them you love them and repeat daily. Because four years ago last night, I had no idea that the next day would be the last day.

Don’t take time for granted while you are in your “yesterdays,” even in the middle of a damn pandemic. Tomorrows come and sometimes they surprise us with gifts and other times with loss which leaves us grateful for what was and in due time allows us to keep going, never forgetting and always richly blessed.

Keep Your Head Up

As we make our way to transitioning to what’s next in a few weeks, glimpsing through the crack of the locked door, the slow opening, returning but not returning, accepting and leaning into different and ongoing uncertainty, remind yourself that you and we have made it this far and we will continue to do so because we have grit, resolve and rapt awareness of this present moment. If this time right now doesn’t change you/us forever, absolutely nothing will. And the change can and should be for the better after we stabilize what we can, let go of the unnecessary and grasp possibility.

We’ve made it through ongoing uncertainty, home bound, deafening and heartening quiet, plenty of walks and runs, caring for parents and kids, lots of video meetings wearing jeans, meeting our coworkers’ kids, dogs and cats and commuting 10 feet to our office.

The debate continues, a combination of health sciences, political science, positioning and best guesses on how and when. Rushing back or staying put. Or somewhere in between where we find most of life, not on extremes but right in the middle, in duality, balancing contradiction, honing in on clarity.

Our collective whole has been in a master class on empathy, community and authenticity. If we choose to have the learning stick and change us, we will be more grateful, kind, better listeners, compassionate, comfortable in quiet, peaceful, mindful of where we spend our time and with who.

While the commercials ruined and watered down the “we’re in this together” so buy stuff, we really are in this together. And together, we will move through to what’s next on the #otherside.

Carry the lessons of this rare time forward, weave new habits of family game time, long walks with the dogs, rest, hobbies and art, saying hi to strangers. Be more patient and understanding of your fellow fragile, strong, resilient sisters and brothers.

More change will come, which is the only certainty that ever really existed before this turned our world upside down. Look up and watch how the light breaks through the clouds. It will be a long road but together we will navigate this uncharted territory together. Keep your head up!

Signs All Around

“Changing is not just changing the things outside of us. First of all we need the right view that transcends all notions including of being and non-being, creator and creature, mind and spirit. That kind of insight is crucial for transformation and healing.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

“Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.” – Henri Nouwen

A joyful wandering through Como neighborhoods with friends tonight was energizing, inspiring and healing. Suddenly a STOP sign caught our attention – someone wove a yarn stem around the metal and created an urban, timeless flower with an important prompt and call to inaction. Stop, breathe and see the buds and blooms that are present right now in front of our very eyes, not in the past or future, but available in the ordinariness of today.

We need more joy, energy, inspiration and most of all healing. As we move through uncertainty, we need to hold tight to a knowing, a reverence and confidence in healing. The caterpillar always becomes a butterfly. The sun rises, every morning. Wounds heal. Flowers bloom.

See the blooms, feel the healing and recognize the signs. Stop and take notice. Allow healing and light. It always comes.

“Meditation can help us embrace our worries, our fear, our anger; and that is very healing. We let our own natural capacity of healing do the work.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Empathy and Optimism

“Rejoice in the things that are present; all else is beyond thee.” – M Michel de Montaigne

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” – Romans 12:15

At the start of a meeting yesterday, each person was asked to share two words that described them in that moment. I listened intently and it was a mix. As I thought about my own words, I chose “empathy and optimism.”

When we are empathetic, we can listen and “weep with those who weep” and by harnessing the power and fuel of optimism, we can simultaneously “rejoice with those who rejoice.” Weeping is real, required and will pass with time. Rejoicing is a way to live, even in the midst of weeping moments.

We are a mix of opposites, contradictions, imperfection, resilience and beautiful music. Pursue awareness – self first so you can see yourself in others and genuinely feel empathy rather than judgment and assumptions. Awareness prompts action and necessary change. As Maya Angelo said, “when you know better, you do better.”

We need to both weep and rejoice, with a bias toward rejoicing and optimism. Life is fragile, strong, short, long and no day returns to repeat so seize today, let go of yesterday and hope for tomorrow.

“To live would be an awfully big adventure.” – Peter Pan

Seed Planting Time

“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

What seeds are you planting now?

Holy

“Pure, holy simplicity confounds all the wisdom of this world and the wisdom of the flesh.” – Francis of Assisi

These are holy, sacred days. Don’t miss or dismiss them. This time, this rare moment is our return to ourselves. Take the trip, go there. There’s a mystery and unknowing and it’s alright and more safe than we know. This time is calling each us back home to our core, our center, to our very being.

Accept the invitation and embrace the moment, for it will pass quickly. Rapt attention, pure joy and deep awareness. Enter and welcome yourself home. Embrace and savor this sacred holy time. Let go of the chaos and enter a peace that passes all understanding.

“O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beams.” –  Saint Augustine

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