“A weak faith is weakened by predicaments and catastrophes,
whereas a strong faith is strengthened by them.” ~ Victor Frankl
Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers
but to be fearless in facing them.
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain,
but for the heart to conquer it.
Let me not look for allies in life’s battlefield
but to my own strength.
~ Rabindranath Tagore
“Forgiveness is the giving, and so the receiving, of life.” ~George MacDonald
“Humanity is never so beautiful as when praying for forgiveness,
or else forgiving another.” ~Jean Paul
“When tragedy strikes, our first human response is to react in anger and with rage in our hearts, to attempt to end such dark behavior by throwing more darkness at the problem. Yet our rational minds tell us that reacting with darkness in the form of hatred and madness simply expands and multiplies the darkness. The only answer to so much darkness is to bring light. As Saint Francis of Assisi reminded us, Where there is darkness, let me bring light.” ~Dr. Wayne Dyer [source]
Let us pray and help bring light to this time of sadness and darkness for Calgary, Alberta. Rest in peace Lawrence Hong, Joshua Hunter, Kaitlin Perras, Zackariah Rathwell and Jordan Segura. My prayers are with all affected by this tragedy. Here are prayers from Illuminata: A Return to Prayer, by Marianne Williamson
Prayer For The Victim of Violence
I have been wounded in body and soul.
My memories, my thoughts, dear Lord, are full of horror, and I am powerless to heal them.
The hatred I feel,
The pain I feel,
Is beyond my ability to deal with.
Please, dear God,
Come into my mind with your spirit, dear God,
Please wash me clean.
Take out of me this sword.
Take out of me this wound.
Take out of me this pain.
Help me forgive,
For it is beyond my power to do so myself.
Release the one who did this
And release, dear God, my heart.
I need new life.
Please give me this.
Thank you, Lord.
Prayer For The Perpetrator
“While we strive to heal the world, the darkness is putting up a massive assault on the planet. God’s healing must extend itself, not to heal light but to heal the darkness. The perpetrator of violence may or may not be consciously horrified by his own behavior. For those who are, that horror does not always lead to the cessation of criminal behavior. As with any addictive pattern where the drive toward certain behavior overwhelms and drowns the yearning of a human conscience, it is only through the power of a genuine spiritual awakening that the deepest darkness is turned to light. For the perpetrator of wrong action, the need for prayer is great indeed. God hears all prayers. He judges no one.” ~Marianne Williamson, Illuminata p.237
I recognize the evil of my behavior.
I ask forgiveness for the pain I’ve caused to others.
Forgive me, God, and cleanse my heart.
May God cast out this evil from within me.
May I be returned somehow, through Your grace, dear God, to the ways of goodness.
Please bless and protect those who have been victims of my perpetration.
May my life be somehow lifted up that I might be redeemed and receive from You the chance to live the rest of my life on the path of good, through the grace of God and in service to humanity forever and forever.
Remember, we are all affecting the world every moment, whether we mean to or not. Our actions and states of mind matter, because we’re so deeply interconnected with one another. Working on our own consciousness is the most important thing that we are doing at any moment, and being love is the supreme creative act. ~Ram Dass
“Today I am so grateful that God knows my heart. Others may misunderstand my good intentions, judge my words or deeds, find fault, or blame what they do not understand. But God knows my heart. He knows I am learning, trying, endeavoring, to be all He created me to be.”
~ Lori Nawyn, The Gratitude Journal Project
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
~Let’s Outgrow Our Past~
In the springtime
go out and observe
on the fruit trees.
as the fruit grows.
So too will
the lower self, the false self, the ego,
as the Divine
grows within you.
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]
“We’re all just walking each other home.” ~ Ram Dass
Matthew 18:20 KJV ~ For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
Image Source 1 2-3 from Google.com
Winter Solstice 2013
“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
All my life, as far back as I can remember, I have felt a connection with trees. I’ve grasped trunks and branches during youthful climbs and wondered how my hands felt to them. I felt their surface as rough, crumbly, sticky in places with sap, and I wondered if they felt me climbing them as warm, human, fleeting, soft.
One of my earliest memories regarding my family involved a tree. A very tall tree. We lived near the end of a long country road and our yard had a row of tall spruce running along the property line, separating our house and yard from the road. I loved those huge spruce trees and would often climb up to sit, swing and bounce on those sprawling lower branches. For my tiny body of six years those branches made a perfect ladder all the way to the top, and one day I just kept going.
I can still remember the sticky sap that clung to my palms as I reached up to another and then another branch-rung in this ladder to the clouds. That is until the branches were so close together that all I could do was perch on the sturdiest one and hold onto the trunk. It was exhilarating. My heart was happy and excited and I felt so intimately close to that old tree. I felt safe. Cocooned. I even noticed how the breeze made that old tree sway. In my mind it was as if I was nestled in the clouds and I loved it.
Then I looked down through the branches and saw my family in the yard: mother gardening, father working on one of his cars, and much older sister preparing to head out in her own car. I could hear them easily and they were starting to ask each other, “Have you seen Gina?” so I unveiled my hiding spot and cheerily called out to them, “Hi Mom! Hi Dad! Hi Sis!” Unfortunately (but predictably) they didn’t think my being 50 feet up in a narrow evergreen quite as enchanting as I did. My Mom went into a screaming state of panic and her fear was palatable. I suddenly gripped that trunk and felt the rush of a powerful fear.
I climbed down with a much more unhappy energy than I’d climbed up with, but I still give thanks for that memory. The trauma from my mother’s fear helped imprint that day, that moment, into my brain to be permanently stored. I loved that tree, that day, the clouds, the breeze, even the sticky and prickly branches, and my mother’s introduction of fear helped sear that day into me so that I would never forget.
Once I became a mother it was easy to forgive and understand my mom’s frantic, scolding behaviour. While I never experienced looking up a 50-foot tree to see my six-year old child near the top, I can still easily understand her behaviour (although I don’t recommend letting your child SEE your level of panic, if at all possible). Obviously I made it down safely, although the coming down was vastly worse than the going up. I was harshly scolded and forbidden from ever climbing trees again. (Not that it lasted. I discovered an ancient walnut tree as well as a prolific cherry tree at our next home. I figured moving made that ‘No Climbing Trees’ agreement void)
Now mid-life has snuck up on me and those memories are decades old. In my world I now have 50-foot spruce trees on my own property. While I do not feel the urge to push my much-larger body through the branches in an attempt to reach the heights, I feel their roots. I offer love to their roots.
I wonder, is this a part of aging? In my youth I longed for the tip-top branches, swaying in the breeze, and now I respect and appreciate roots where I add compost, occasional fertilizer and water during times of drought.
I myself have put deeper roots down as I cherish these years of my forties. If I may be so lucky this is the halfway point… the true mid-life stage and I intend to show up and put on a good show.
Offering my love and appreciation for the two huge spruce I share this property with is one way I celebrate life. They are old trees, older than I am, and their sprawling shallow roots reach much farther than the drip-line. Their roots might even be under me now as I type in the den facing the street, beside the nearest of the two giant trees as I watch the pattern of the wind in its branches.
If this is the case and the roots are under my feet, may it receive this prayer I offer. May this tree feel my appreciation for the birds it shelters and the shade it offers. May it know those fertilizer spikes I pound in at the drip-line during spring rains are one way I show my love as I attempt to replenish the soil nourishment our city lifestyles rob from urban trees. May it, on some unknown level, feel my loving eyes as I watch its branches from my window and attempt to capture poetic words to describe the beauty I behold. May these old trees, and all the trees in my neighbourhood and the wilderness walks I enjoy, feel my deep appreciation for them and continue to flourish and share their oxygenating, healing energy with us all.
Thank You God for all the Trees.
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.
~ Chinese Proverb
I willingly confess to so great a partiality for trees as tempts me to respect a man in exact proportion to his respect for them.
~ James Russell Lowell
I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live
than other things do. ~ Willa Cather
[With genuine gratitude for these randomly-sourced royalty-free photos off Google images]
As I continue to investigate the healing effects of building our self-worth, I am rediscovering the works of art and wisdom shared from Karen Salmansohn. Here are a couple more treasures from her, with abundant gratitude for the healing light she sends out into the world. May we take these words to heart.
Marianne Williamson has written that loving ourselves isn’t selfish; it’s humble. To think that we are not worthy of our own love is to forget that we are a child of God. This isn’t suggesting we’re not flawed, but rather that we offer love to ourselves while we are learning better, while we are improving. We can decide to love our self right now, right here. Just the way we are.
There are goals I’m striving for and ways I’m inspired to keep learning. And there are times I fall down and feel too hurt to get back up. But I always do, because I know every wound carves me into a larger being, a wiser heart, a deeper spirit.
The life-long, on-going process of ‘growing up’ keeps me wildly interested in life. Our world is fascinating, terrific, terrible, upsetting, awe-inspiring and heart-breakingly beautiful. Life is incredible, all of it, and accepting and loving ourselves helps celebrate that!
Loving yourself does not mean being self-absorbed or narcissistic, or disregarding others…
Rather it means welcoming yourself as the most honored guest in your own heart, a guest worthy of respect, a lovable companion. - Margo Anand
Believing in our hearts that who we are is enough is the key to a more satisfying and balanced life. - Ellen Sue Stern
You can’t build joy on a feeling of self-loathing. - Ram Dass
It’s not your job to like me… it’s MINE! - Byron Katie
Something amazing happens when we surrender and just love. We melt into another world, a realm of power already within us. The world changes when we change. The world softens when we soften. The world loves us when we choose to love the world. - Marianne Williamson
(As always, my gratitude to the creators of these images, randomly sourced off the Internet)
Just as water rises no higher than itself, so too can the love of others enter our hearts only to the level of love we have for ourselves. Let’s remember this and be aware of our self-talk, and cease speaking unkindly about ourselves or others. By finding things to praise, we are building the way up to stronger self worth, for ourselves and for others. We’re all worth it!
With gratitude to the makers of the first randomly sourced images. Last image: Warmest gratitude to the lovely and wise blogger Pat Cegan at Source Of Inspiration.
Our troubles are like a prescription written out specifically for us from the Great Physician. And lately I’ve been going through some painful troubles I wish He hadn’t prescribed for me! However, I know I must be strong enough to get through this, because it has happened. It has been prescribed.
I am incredibly thankful to have survived into my forties relatively pain-free. I did have two natural childbirths mind you, so that does put everything into perspective! But I have not broken a bone except my big toe when I was a teenager (that was painful). And I suffered through a bulging disc (decades ago, back when we called it a ‘slipped disc’). But I have mercifully escaped dental pain. Until now.
Biting something tiny and terribly hard right in the center of a molar that caused a crack in the tooth has led to a painful chain of events. Just breathing the cold air outside or sipping a hot cup of tea caused excruciating pain, and a throbbing ache that kept me from sleeping. I was relieved that my dentist referred me to a root-canal specialist. Then, a couple of days later I was very thankful to that office for rearranging some appointments with others who were not in pain so that they could work me in quickly.
When I arrived for my first-ever root-canal, I made the office staff laugh when I placed on the counter a jar wrapped with silk ribbon and filled with flowers, as I said “I’ll bet not everyone brings flowers to their root-canal appointments!”
I wanted to thank them for going out of their way to work me in quickly, and they loved it.
Fast forward through my meditating and silently reciting poetry to get myself through the four (yes four!) needles required to numb the area, then an hour of drilling and such (which I don’t mind – it’s needles that horrify me) only to have the dentist tell me the bad news: he found a crack at the tip of the root and the tooth cannot be saved.
My faith wavered and my spirits fell. I felt like my fear of dentists was only overcome by the urgent need to put an end to the pain, and now to face the imminent prospect of more appointments (with more needles!) to go through an extraction and future tooth implant procedure, and how long would it take to afford all that… well, I struggled to keep from crying as I drove the half hour trip home.
It can be incredibly challenging to feel joyful and filled with gratitude for life when we are in pain. And especially when our future is looming with images of more pain. Being immersed in a state of joy-filled gratitude is my normal state of being, and it felt lonely, cold, and sad to be in this bleak place, bereft of hope. However, as I do with the various climates of being, I allowed myself to feel miserable. I let the tears come, about the waste of money and the waste of my time and pain to end up with nothing. I let myself feel all my feelings. I postponed meetings and begged off supper duty for a couple of days as I rested, cried a bit, felt hopeless, and slept.
Today, three days after the procedure, I woke up feeling like my old self. I did my meditation prayer and felt rejuvenated. “Thank You God!” I said aloud cheerfully. Having spent time in the darkest of blues has made my return to the brightness of optimism and enthusiasm all that much brighter.
Balanced with this renewed brightness is an even greater empathy for those who are in pain. A grumpy person, a reckless driver in traffic, a stranger cursing in a store… who knows if these might be people enduring awful and persistent pain? It urges me to offer even greater patience, especially to those who don’t appear to deserve it for it might be those who need it the most.
Before I allow someone’s apparent lack of manners or social niceties to lower my energy or upset me in any way, what if I considered that they might be in pain? Could I forgive someone who snapped at me in a store, or cut me off in traffic if I knew they had an aching tooth, or a bulging disc? Could I remain at peace and send them loving white light?
Yes I could, and I can, and I will. I choose to remember my recent misery and allow this newfound empathy to help me shine my loving light to those seemingly unpleasant people who may cross my path. Thank You God for this essential prescription you recently wrote for me. It has brought me deeper empathy and an even greater capacity for love and forgiveness.
I won’t say that I will ever enjoy going to see dentists, but I’ll always remember to be thankful for the services they offer. And I might even bring flowers.
“Don’t you know that it’s worth, every treasure on earth, to be young at heart? For as rich as you are it’s much better by far to be young at heart. And if you should survive to 105 look at all you’ll derive out of being alive! And here is the best part: you have a head start if you are among the very young at heart.”
Young At Heart ~ by Carolyn Leigh & Johnny Richards and performed by Frank Sinatra
Thank you to lyrics writer Carolyn Leigh and music by Johnny Richards, and of course the melodious crooning voice of Frank Sinatra who first released this masterpiece in 1953.
This delightful song is a timeless and wise reminder for us to let our love blossom, always!
Image sources: Piglet & Pooh: Google.com; Heart branches: Google.com; Eleanor Roosevelt: verybestquotes.com; Hearts Tree: wanelo.com; The Heart That Loves: ProfessionsForPeace.com