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Full Immersion and Expression

“Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of trouble, attempts what is above its strength, pleads no excuse of impossibility; for it thinks all things lawful for itself, and all things possible.” – Thomas a Kempis

“What are the characteristics of the most wonderful people you know? The WONDERFUL ones? They said, Loving. Caring. Kind. And so I asked them, Is that not what success actually is? To be a wonderful person who touches someone else’s life?”― Julie Lythcott-Haims, Your Turn: How to Be an Adult

Above and beyond.
The extra mile.
Reaching out.
Going first to engage, not waiting or taking turns.
No calculation, measure, keeping score.
A smile that shouts “HELLO.”
An exclamation point.
A comma and semi-colon to pause.
Inquiry and observation.
A conversation, a real connection.
Listening to understand, not reply.
Responding with gentleness rather than judgment.
Generosity of spirit.
Soft heart.
A magnet.
Hospitality and welcoming.
Inviting and belonging.
This is love.
Tether and anchor in love and then go show it.
Loving. Caring. Kind.
This is how we save ourselves and the world.
The power of one, then another, and another…
No excuse of impossibility.
All things possible.
Light your wick.
Full immersion and expression.

“Compassion means the full immersion in the condition of being human.” – Henri Nouwen

Clumsily

“Peace is not something you can force on anything or anyone… much less upon one’s own mind. It is like trying to quiet the ocean by pressing upon the waves. Sanity lies in somehow opening to the chaos, allowing anxiety, moving deeply into the tumult, diving into the waves, where underneath, within, peace simply is.”― Gerald May, Simply Sane: The Spirituality of Mental Health

“And yet I decide, every day, to set aside what I can do best and attempt what I do very clumsily – open myself to the frustrations and failures of loving, daring to believe that failing in love is better than succeeding in pride.”― Eugene H. Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society

We curate and assemble.
The highlights.
Sure, that there’s a shortcut and bypass.
10 easy steps.
The formula to our best lives now.
#blessed
But it’s only part of the story.
Struggle, muddling, frustration.
Beauty, joy, laughter.
A potpourri of it all.
Welcome to the human race.
Allow it, wait (ugh, patience required in an instant world).
Gratitude loosens the grip of singularity.
A deeper and wider view, dimension and nuance.
Keep moving through.
Ready to begin and repeat.
Refreshed, renewed, readied.
In time (ugh again) and with patience (oof), grit and endurance to the finish line, to new starts.
The journey is the arriving, again and again.
Starting, stumbles and stops in between.
Underneath the messy, chaos and imperfect, peace simply is awaiting your arrival.
Available now, not someday when.
Get your footing, center, recalibrate, reach out.
Anchor in joy and wonder.
Carry on.

“Optimists focus on the place they are going. Pessimists focus on the obstacles along the route. To become an optimist simply look ahead.” — Simon Sinek

In the Pauses

“Only in the pauses between things, in the brief contemplative spaces of just being, can we catch a glimpse of love itself.”― Gerald G. May, The Awakened Heart: Opening Yourself to the Love You Need

“Life is not a matter of reaching a stagnant end point, but is rather an ongoing process in which one, hopefully and with grace, grows ever more deeply in love.”― Gerald G. May, The Dark Night of the Soul: A Psychiatrist Explores the Connection Between Darkness and Spiritual Growth

Enter the flow of life and let it enter you.
A dialogue.
A conversation.
A deepening and lightening.
To see the same anew.
The familiar as if for the first time.
Beauty, wonder, awe to guide and lead.
Lay down the unnecessary, freeing your arms to catch and embrace glimpses of love, peace and joy.
To be moved from stagnancy to grace.
In the pauses, abundance overflows.

“Joy is the reaction one has to the full appreciation of Being. It is one’s response to finding one’s rightful, rooted place in life, and it can happen only when one knows through and through that absolutely nothing is being denied or otherwise shut out of awareness.”― Gerald G. May, Will and Spirit: A Contemplative Psychology

A Slice of Blue and Sliver of Sun

“At sunrise, the blue sky paints herself with gold colors and joyfully dances to the music of a morning breeze.”― Debasish Mridha

“It is written on the arched sky; it looks out from every star. It is the poetry of Nature; it is that which uplifts the spirit within us.” – John Ruskin

The sun has been in short supply as of late, on a cloud streak.
When it made a guest appearance yesterday morning for a few hours, I captured it as a reminder.
Remembering the slices of blue and the slivers of sun that will soon return in abundance.
Absence sharpens the senses.
Gratitude for them multiples in the meantime.
Clouds and winter have their own lessons in courses we don’t sign up for.
Transcending our reluctance, clarity with time.
All of them work together weaving a life.
Remain present in today, whether clouds, blue and sun.
Slices, slivers, crevices, corners.
Treasure to be found.
Beauty, truth teller.

“Complete people gaze into the blue sky above, plunge into the center of the earth below, and run freely in the eight directions without even a change of mood.”― Liezi, The Book of Master Lie

Like Never Before or Ever Again

“Animals praise a good day, a good hunt. They praise rain if they’re thirsty. That’s prayer. They don’t live an unconscious life, they simply have no language to talk about these things. But they are grateful for the good things that come along.” – Mary Oliver

“Today is life-the only life you are sure of. Make the most of today. Get interested in something. Shake yourself awake. Develop a hobby. Let the winds of enthusiasm sweep through you. Live today with gusto.” – Dale Carnegie

I take the girls to the dog park almost every day.
A few blocks out, Abby starts groaning with anticipation.
If no one is around, I let them off leash at the top of the hill and they barrel down the wooded path as if arriving somewhere new for the first time ever.
Every single time, enthusiasm overflowing, fresh and new joy.
We can make the ordinary daily activities extraordinary by entering them through doors of wonder and windows of awe.
Seeing the same from a different angle.
Like we’ve never been here before and that we won’t ever be in this day again.
One is in our control and the other is not.
Time is moving swiftly.
We slow it down when we savor and celebrate it while we are in it.
No where to be but here and now.
Like never before or ever again.
Praise this good day.
Hunt well.
Plenty to be found.

What to Leave Out

“In music, silence is more important than sound.” – Miles Davis

“Some day I’m gonna call me up on the phone, so when I answer, I can tell myself to shut up.”― Miles Davis

Our innate reaction to challenges is to figure out what to do.
Action is important to trigger change, shift behavior, make progress.
Often, the right action is not in doing and adding but in silence and subtracting.
Creating space to hear anew, see with fresh eyes.
To see what’s in right in front of us that we keep stepping over, going around, avoiding, bypassing.
In search of the “answer,” the “easy button,” that’s out there somewhere, in some day if and when this and that happens.
Many answers lie within, most require time and all require quiet to rise to the surface. Some never come at all, remaining a mystery, an unknowing.
Discerning what is in my control (me), what is not (others) and what just is.
We can then respond insightfully rather than react habitually.
Quiet your internal chatter, tune out external noise, inquire and observe, listen with an open heart and arms.
The sound of silence at work.

“I always listen to what I can leave out.”― Miles Davis

Within Time

“Meditation is not about what’s happening, it is about how we’re relating to what’s happening.”
― Sharon Salzberg, Real Happiness at Work: Meditations for Accomplishment, Achievement, and Peace

“Order us, that we may stand within time holding your hand. That we may know we are enough, not because what we make of these hours, but because within these hours – with you – we are being made.”― Micha Boyett

More is here, unnoticed.
Enough, more than enough overflowing.
Ease, woven in slowing.
Delight, in the rising of the sun.
Brilliance, in the color and curve of a flower.
Joy, in a smile that breaks into laughter.
All of it, prayer.
When we recognize what already is present for our savoring.
An invitation and welcoming, the messy and beauty.
A returning to wonder, a response of praise and awe.
We are being made, written, painted, created each day.
Witness the work of the Author, Artist, Creator.

“Prayer is not an act I perform, words I recite, a behavior I strive to maintain. It is a returning. It is a broken life finding healing, a misplaced soul recognizing home.”― Micha Boyett, Found: A Story of Questions, Grace & Everyday Prayer

Blazes of Gladness

“Happiness is a choice that requires effort at times.”― Aeschylus

“Remember that happiness is as contagious as gloom. It should be the first duty of those who are happy to let others know of their gladness.” – Maurice Maeterlinck

May the door to delight and awe be unlocked and open.
Letting play and fun do their work in you.
Lightening the load.
Creating space.
Putting down the unnecessary.
Making room for the breath of life.
Inhale.
Exhale.
Smile, laugh, let your guard down.
Rejoice and be glad in this day.
Cultivate, create, and share gladness to spark and kindle joy for others.
Be contagious with zest, enthusiasm and encouragement.
Unexpected sparks, brightest blazes.
Make it a “I got three balls in my mouth” kind of day.

“Our brightest blazes of gladness are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks.”― Samuel Johnson, The Idler

Watch and Stay Found

“One bird sits still Watching the work of God:”― Thomas Merton, A Book of Hours

“Minds don’t rest; they reel and wander and fixate and roll back and reconsider because it’s like this, having a mind. Hearts don’t idle; they swell and constrict and break and forgive and behold because it’s like this, having a heart. Lives don’t last; they thrill and confound and circle and overflow and disappear because it’s like this, having a life.” – Kelly Corrigan, Tell Me More

Allow it all.
The opposites, inconsistencies, contradictions, contrasts.
Thorns and brambles.
Desert and wilderness.
For in all of it lies beauty, wonder, awe, joy, grace, delight, delicious, reverence, holy, sacred.
Awaiting our attention, savoring and care.
Watch and stay found.

“Good Shepherd, You have a wild and crazy sheep in love with thorns and brambles. But please don’t get tired of looking for me! I know You won’t. For You have found me. All I have to do is stay found.”― Thomas Merton, A Book of Hours

Only Kinship

“There is no force in the world better able to alter anything from its course than love.”― Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion

“No daylight to separate us.

Only kinship. Inching ourselves closer to creating a community of kinship such that God might recognize it. Soon we imagine, with God, this circle of compassion. Then we imagine no one standing outside of that circle, moving ourselves closer to the margins so that the margins themselves will be erased. We stand there with those whose dignity has been denied. We locate ourselves with the poor and the powerless and the voiceless. At the edges, we join the easily despised and the readily left out. We stand with the demonized so that the demonizing will stop. We situate ourselves right next to the disposable so that the day will come when we stop throwing people away.”― Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion

Kinship, kindness, compassion in abundance.
Margins erased, boundaries crossed, connections made.
The noise of othering, judgment, and opinion fade to reveal our shared humanity.
May love be our map and destination.
Oh, the places we could go.

“We exercise kindness in any moment when we recognize our shared humanity—with all the hopes, dreams, joys, disappointments, vulnerability, and suffering that implies.”― Sharon Salzberg, Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection

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