“Life is eternal; and love is immortal; and death is only a horizon; and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.” ~ Rossiter W. Raymond
Kintsugi, the ancient Japanese art of repairing a broken bowl with golden seams along the cracks, celebrates the concept that the item is now even more beautiful for having been broken.
Many years ago when I was suffering deeply, a friend and teacher who is a Native American shaman offered me comfort with these words: A broken heart holds more. Five words that brought solace. It was a saying I mulled over, like a new flavor in the mouth, turning it, savoring it, and slowly absorbing it.
As our heart breaks open and heals over the raw exposed areas, it becomes larger. It grows. To me, it is like an island being formed from lava and transforming into a rocky outcropping soon to be covered in greenery and flourishing with life, where none had existed before. Our very woundedness that feels so barren and lifeless actually helps foster new life. New growth will appear where there was no footing for it previously. Now we are larger and we can hold more.
I have been broken. Many times. Now I feel that I am as a beautifully shining vessel, proudly mended. I feel wizened for having survived so much, such hardships I do not mention because they are old and over, but each one felt absolutely near to breaking me. My healed scars are hard-earned trophies, testimony of dark places I have survived and surmounted. I know the valley of the shadow of death, too well, and the view from the mountaintop is all the more cherished for having earned the climb.
It is in our darkest times that, I feel, we are forced to surrender. I was at least. Perhaps those who resist surrendering everything to our Higher Power remain in the valley of the shadow of death for longer than they need to. Or perhaps they keep returning there. I know I did years ago, repeating hurtful behaviors and patterns, finding myself in the same type of painful situations (that dark valley) again and again, until my knees finally hit the ground and I remembered to ask for help.
In the early nineties Marianne Williamson wrote about suffering and learning at last to surrender. Here are excerpts I found comforting during some of my darkest times. May these words help someone today.
“Until your knees finally hit the floor, you’re just playing at life, and on some level you’re scared because you know you’re just playing. For many people, things have to get very bad before there’s a shift. When you truly bottom out, there comes an exhilarating release. You recognize there’s a power in the universe bigger than you are, who can do for you what you can’t do for yourself. All of a sudden, your last resort sounds like a very good idea. How ironic. You spend your whole life resisting the notion that there’s someone out there smarter than you are, and then all of a sudden you’re so relieved to know it’s true. All of a sudden, you’re not too proud to ask for help. That’s what it means to surrender to God.” ~ Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love
Even though the darker it gets the more alone we feel, we are actually never alone. But it is ourselves who must reach out and ask for help. We must reach for the Light. Let us remember. May we remember to ask for help, may we find strength within for the climb, and may we discover the exquisite beauty of our golden scars.
Copyright © 2014 Gina ~ Professions for PEACE
“Destiny is a personal adventure. Just as no two snowflakes or fingerprints are alike, every soul comes into this world for a unique purpose. Each of us manifests good according to our own strengths and intentions. Never compare your worth to that of others because you did not accomplish what they did; you were never supposed to be like them. Your highest purpose in life is to be true to yourself. If you honor your personal gifts, intuition, inclinations, and visions, you will fulfill your destiny and serve many others in the process.” ~ Alan Cohen, A Deep Breath of Life
This sweet image and wise saying by the talented
Lori Nawyn lifts my heart and brightens my day.
May it uplift your heart as well. Blessings. Gina
As taught by Vivakenanda, and shared by Dr. Wayne Dyer on the PBS program ‘Wishes Fulfilled’
The teacher Vivakenanda was asked by his devotees, “How do you do it? How do you access your Higher Self? How do you make this your reality?” He answered with the above example to help us focus on our spiritual growth, knowing whatever is unnecessary to our highest learning will dissolve away like fruit blossoms.
It reminds me of Carl Jung: “Our most important problems cannot be solved. They must be outgrown.” This powerful concept helps retrain how I think, to pay NO attention to the things I don’t like in my life. I’m too busy being focused on where I’m headed. As Ernest Holmes taught, I choose to “Only look at that which you wish to experience.”
When I was single I noticed healthy, loving relationships around me with a smile and a glowing heart, knowing it would one day be my own joy – and now it is. When I allowed an unhealthy substance to take over my life, I prayed for and focused on what it felt like to be a light and carefree non-drinker, and that is my joyful experience of life now.
Every day I continue growing towards who I am becoming. I visualize myself feeling, behaving, and acting peacefully no matter what external events are happening. I certainly have a ways to go, but every slip up [such as yesterday when I was grumpy with my husband when I hadn't noticed how hungry I'd become] helps strengthen my resolve to focus on calmness and inner peace. To be aware of what pulls me off balance so that I can remain steady. And I fully believe we all get where we’re going by looking forward, and giving zero attention to what we no longer want. Let’s focus on what we DO want, and let the rest fall away like finished fruiting blossoms.
Copyright © 2014 Gina ~ Professions for PEACE
[Images gratefully sourced from Google.com]
Let’s embrace these wise words that Anne Sullivan taught 11-year old Helen Keller as described in the book The Story of My Life: “…the best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, but just felt in the heart.” [quote source]
Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man had to spend all his time on his back.
The men talked for hours on end. Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.
“This window overlooks a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans play on the water while children sail their model boats.” the man by the window said. “Young lovers walk arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline can be seen in the distance.”
While the man by the window described this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. His smile growing with every new piece of detail told to him.
One afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although, the other man couldn’t hear the band, any commotion or excitement – he could see it.
One morning, the day nurse entered the room to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. Slowly and painfully, the man propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside that he had heard so much about. He strained to slowly look out the window. It faced a blank wall.
The man was confused and somewhat disappointed. He looked forward to seeing all the wonderful things his roommate had described to him. The park, the lake, the ducks and swans. None of that could be seen from the bedside window.
Feeling a little frustrated the man asked the nurse, “What could have compelled my roommate to lie to me like he did? He described such wonderful things outside this window but nothing he spoke of can be seen. All that is visible is that ugly grey blank wall. Why did he lie to me?”
“Didn’t he tell you?” the nurse responded, “He was blind so he couldn’t see the wall. But maybe he described such wonderful things because they were visions in his mind and he wanted to encourage you?”
The man laid back on his bed and let out a sigh as he softly said, “Yes, that he did.” Then he whispered to himself, “Thank you for sharing your wonderful world, my friend.”
[both images gratefully sourced from Google]
Image Source 1 2-3 from Google.com
Just as Bill Murray’s character Phil Connors discovers in the movie Groundhog Day, let us remember that happiness is an inside job. For whatever reason this rude, unkind man has been gifted with a repeating day that will not release him until he learns to love his life. Even his striving to ‘get the girl’ must be released and replaced with his development of a love affair with his own life. It is through acceptance, growing, and caring for others that he, and each of us, finds genuine happiness.
May we all discover the beauty amidst the imperfections, the joy amongst the hurts, and the abundant bliss waiting to be noticed within the ordinary every day life we live. Let’s open up to the miracle and learn to love our life, today, just the way it is. May this day, and every day, be as a celebration in our hearts.
by Kate Bratskeir
“Bliss, instead, relies on just one individual: You.
Bliss isn’t a matter of perceiving your life as utopia. ‘We can’t be Pollyannaish,’ [he] says. ‘In our lives, things always go wrong. None of us have perfect lives.’ The wonder of bliss, however, is that it prevents the inevitable things that do go wrong from devastating us. When we tap into bliss, ‘things really can shift.’
To activate the transformational principles of bliss, you have to make tapping into your bliss a daily practice. But this isn’t as daunting as it seems. ‘None of this is very hard to do, you just have to do a little bit every day and you can make tremendous progress very quickly,’ the teacher encourages. You have control of your thoughts, and there are a few tried and true techniques to guide these thoughts toward bliss.” ~ source: Huffington Post
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” ~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail, 1963
Months before he delivered his significant speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. was bravely writing those responsible for his incarceration a letter that would become a crucial text for the civil rights movement. His April 16, 1963 Letter from a Birmingham Jail defends nonviolent resistance to racism, arguing that people have a moral responsibility to break unjust laws. Dr. King included the full text in his 1964 book Why We Can’t Wait.
On this day of his birth I feel especially energized to do what I can to make a difference! Beyond the kindness for all that I always share with smiles, kind words and courtesy, I can write letters. I can support organizations and individuals working towards diversity. I can express my opinions on how we are all the same and are deeply interconnected. I can encourage dialogue on what can be done. I can do something! I can raise my voice so that I may be heard.
What more can I be doing about bringing human rights to the forefront, towards eliminating poverty and promoting equality? If my neighbours, friends or family of any religion, orientation, skin colour or nationality were suffering from hate-mongering harassment, I’d be there like a mother bear, putting myself on the line for their safety.
Let’s be like those courageous passersby caught taking a stand by hidden cameras in the program What Would You Do and we would make Martin Luther King Jr. proud! Let’s take a stand for freedom and speak out against injustice. And, as many of the folks captured on that televised ‘social experiment’ have shown, we are most powerful when we are not angry. We have the loudest voice when it is spoken softly. Take a stand with calm firmness, and bring the higher vibration of love to the moment. Be a miracle worker.
If witnessing an injustice directed towards a minority (by small-minded persons who fear ‘otherness’) let us speak up for them as we would have them speak up for us. Once we have stepped up, we open the situation to miracles. It’s been proven that other strangers step forward more quickly after the first person has spoken. We can lead the way with our example and help miracles to happen. Let’s speak up against any injustice we may witness, as well as those occurring beyond our immediate locale. Let’s do what we can to help keep Dr. King’s life-work alive and thriving.
Leviticus 19:18 NIV ~ Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.
Luke 6:31 NIV ~ Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Whom should I despise, since the one Lord made us all. ~ Guru Granth Sahib, p.1237
What thou avoidest suffering thyself, seek not to impose on others. ~ Epictetus
Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss. ~ Laozi (Lao Tzu)
‘Do unto others’ is a concept no religion misses. All versions of the Golden Rule have one aspect in common: they urge that we treat others in a way in which we ourselves would like to be treated.
Additional reading of my post from last year: A Warrior for Peace
“Oh, would that Christmas lasted the whole year through, as it ought. Would that the spirit of Christmas could live within our hearts every day of the year.” ~Charles Dickens
“If as Herod, we fill our lives with things and again with things; if we consider ourselves so unimportant that we must fill every moment of our lives with action, when will we have the time to make the long, slow journey across the desert as did the Magi? Or sit and watch the stars as did the shepherds? Or brood over the coming of the child as did Mary? For each one of us, there is a desert to travel. A star to discover. And a being within ourselves to bring to life.” ~Author Unknown
“The image of Christ being born in a manger symbolizes that God comes forth in a place of humility. Spirit seeks not fanfare, human riches or, accolades, but the simplicity of an open heart.” ~Alan Cohen
Wishing each and every one of us, the entire human family that we comprise, a truly peaceful heart and a peaceful loving world. God bless. ~Gina
First image from sandyhaight.com; All others were randomly sourced.
“Peace be with you. The darkest day of the year has come. The silence of winter covers the land, and even the waters are still and frozen. Their clarity reflects the purity of heart that we may all claim in this season. Their mirrored surface reflects our insight and understanding. Let us pray, ‘May there be peace on earth and goodwill towards all’.” From the writing of Joan Borysenko, Ph.D. in Pocketful of Miracles
May today be a tipping point towards ever-increasing light and kindness the world over.
Living at the 51st parallel North, the Winter Solstice is an anticipated point of the year. At long last, the globe begins its return to increasing daylight. I feel my spirits lift for I know this cold, northern hemisphere is on its return trip towards summer, more sunlight, and abundant growth.
For us residing this far north, today the sun is up for less than 8 hours – from 8:35 in the morning to 4:30 in the afternoon. This is less than half the time it’s above the horizon on the Summer Solstice, when it’s up for 16 hours and 33 minutes. I sympathize for those living even farther north. In the extreme north the sun doesn’t rise for a week around the Winter Solstice, only allowing a faint twilight between 9am and 2pm.
As I contemplate this earthly return towards the light, I also envision humanity’s spiritual return towards ever greater light within us all. This is a prayerful time for offering not only the light of our hearts during meditation and prayer, but also to share our light within through genuine smiles and acts of kindness. It needn’t cost a thing as we offer a compliment or a gentle word to a frazzled clerk or shopper. We can anonymously shovel a neighbour’s sidewalk or scrape the ice off their windshield. We can gently offer our arm to a senior traversing an icy parking lot or treacherous section of sidewalk, or our hand to someone who has dropped a bag. We can put up sweet posters on public community boards, offering quotes on hope or faith or joy. Our acts of kindness are only as limited as our imaginations!
Let us turn our faces towards the light and our hearts will inevitably follow. Let us take even one step of action towards kindness and we become an active member of the tipping point of goodness in the world.
I will continue to give thanks for my beeswax candles, Christmas tree lights, and outdoor strings of lights adding cheer and warmly illuminating these long nights. I feel gratitude for the blessings that each day brings, but especially today on the Winter Solstice, I feel a burgeoning hope!
I will joyfully watch for evidence of the lengthening days to start appearing soon, as well as evidence of humankind’s active kindness towards each other. We can all do something that brings ever more light. I will do my part, and let this little light of mine shine. Namaste.
Additional Reading Suggestions:
Please note parts of this post were originally posted here on last year’s Winter Solstice. Also all these posters have been randomly sourced off the internet.
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” ~ Nelson Mandela
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
~ Written by Mary Elizabeth Frye
Born in the village of Mvezo in Umtatu, then a part of South Africa’s Cape Province on July 18th, 1918, Nelson Rolihlahia Mandela died of a lung infection on December 5th, 2013 at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg surrounded by his family. He was 95 years of age.
His death was announced by the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma. On December 6th President Zuma announced a national mourning period of ten days, with the main event being an official memorial service to be held at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on the 10th of December 2013.
Within South Africa, Mandela was widely considered to be “the father of the nation”, and “the founding father of democracy”, being seen as “the national liberator, the saviour, its Washington and Lincoln rolled into one”. In 2004, Johannesburg granted Mandela the freedom of the city, and the Sandton Square shopping centre was renamed Nelson Mandela Square, after a Mandela statue was installed there. In 2008, another Mandela statue was unveiled at Groot Drakenstein Correctional Centre, formerly Victor Verster Prison, near Cape Town, standing on the spot where Mandela was released from the prison.
He has also received international acclaim. In 1993, he received the joint Nobel Peace Prize with Frederik Willem de Klerk “for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa”. In November 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed Mandela’s birthday, July 18, as “Mandela Day”, marking his contribution to the anti-apartheid struggle. It called on individuals to donate 67 minutes to doing something for others, commemorating the 67 years that Mandela had been a part of the movement.
Awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Order of Canada, he was the first living person to be made an honorary Canadian citizen. The last recipient of the Soviet Union’s Lenin Peace Prize from the Soviet Union, and first recipient of the Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights, in 1990 he received the Bharat Ratna Award from the government of India and in 1992 received Pakistan’s Nishan-e-Pakistan. In 1992 he was awarded the Atatürk Peace Award by Turkey. He refused the award, citing human rights violations committed by Turkey at the time but later accepted the award in 1999. Elizabeth II awarded him the Bailiff Grand Cross of the Order of St. John and the Order of Merit.
Across the world, Mandela came to be seen as “a moral authority” with a great “concern for truth”. Considered friendly and welcoming, Mandela exhibited a “relaxed charm” when talking to others, including his opponents. Although often befriending millionaires and dignitaries, he enjoyed talking with their staff when at official functions. In later life, he was known for looking for the best in everyone, even defending political opponents to his allies, though some thought him too trusting of others.
In late 1996 when Mandela was asked by friends if he was religious, Mandela explained he was a Methodist but he felt at ease in any house of prayer.
With love and respect, I dedicate today’s post to Mr. Mandela who has deeply inspired me throughout my life, as well as countless others around the world. He will always be remembered and will live on forever in our hearts. ~Gina
Life is a Mirror, so let’s smile at ourselves when we look in the mirror. It makes a difference!
With deep gratitude to the makers of these randomly sourced images off the Web.