“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
“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
“Seeing beauty in a flower could awaken humans, however briefly, to the beauty that is an essential part of their own innermost being, their true nature.” – Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth
“The Amen of nature is always a flower.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Let each day unfold without pretense or prediction of what will or should be. Look for the good in others and yourself and let the rest go. Stop trying to fix others and control the uncontrollable. Glimpses of light and clarity are woven through each day to awaken us to life, to ourselves.
“The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring.” – Bernard Williams
Beneath the weight of the snow lies green grass ready to awaken, flowers ready to burst from the earth. The warmth of the sun brings a slow, steady melt. Renewed and refreshed from the dormancy of Winter, Spring patiently waits to unfold in its time.
Through the seasons of our life, we cycle from hibernation to fruition, never the same, growing and unfolding into ourselves. We can remain buried beneath the layers and weight or we can let the heaviness melt away, letting go, forgetting, forgiving, moving on.
Spring releases Winter. We need not carry it any further. It has served its purpose. Melt, soften, become more gentle. Breakthrough the layers, burst, bud, bloom. Be bright, bold and beautiful. Beneath, beneath, Spring has come.
“The winter solstice has always been special to me as a barren darkness that gives birth to a verdant future beyond imagination, a time of pain and withdrawal that produces something joyfully inconceivable, like a monarch butterfly masterfully extracting itself from the confines of its cocoon, bursting forth into unexpected glory.” – Gary Zukav
“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.
“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.