On Forgiveness, part 2

This morning I decided to look through my library seeking comfort from wise words on forgiveness. The book DARE TO BE YOURSELF was the first one I reached for, and it literally fell open to this passage. I was delighted! So simple yet so true. Jesus is all about forgiveness. I read it aloud to my husband at breakfast, and he enjoyed it  also. It is my humble desire that you, dear reader, may find enjoyment in it as well. Namaste.

From the brilliant mind of author Alan Cohen:

Word came to Father Bernardo about a woman in his town who was said to be talking with Jesus. Many people were praising Maria’s gift, reporting that she had interceded for them in their prayers and brought them great help. The townspeople believed that she was indeed communicating with God.

Father Bernardo, however, was a rather cynical man. He had begun his vocation with hope and enthusiasm, but over the years his vision had become obstructed by a dark cloud of doubt. Although he was a man of the cloth, Father Bernardo had allowed guilt and fear to undermine his belief in his own innocence and that of others. Suspecting this woman to be a fraud, the priest decided he would put her to a test. Father Bernardo went to see Maria and asked her, “Is it true that you talk to Jesus?”

“It is so,” she answered.

“Then would you ask him a question for me?”

“Certainly.”

“The next time you talk to Jesus,” Father Bernardo requested, “ask him what was the sin I committed when I was in the seminary.” He smiled politely and bowed his head, feeling smug that he had cornered the alleged oracle.

“Very well,” Maria responded, “I will ask Jesus this question. Come back next week and I will have an answer for you.”

The week passed, and Father Bernardo returned. “Did you talk to Jesus this week?” he asked.

“I did.”

“Did you ask him what was my sin in the seminary?”

“Yes, Father, I did.”

“And what did he say?”

“He said, ‘I forgot’ ”

 

View Alan Cohen’s ‘Dare to be Yourself’ at Amazon.com

May Day Gratitude

My heart is overflowing with gratitude… even more than usual on this delightfully rainy first day of May. Upon waking this morning, I gave immediate thanks to God for the songbirds enjoying the trees, shrubs, water and food sources in my yard. I am thankful to live very close to a forested park preserve with a mighty river running through it, which helps support the variety of birds I enjoy having in my neighbourhood. Thank you God, thank you God, thank you God! 

Every morning I enjoy doing my prayer ritual with more than words. I speak aloud, and then spend moments in quiet. Feeling the essence of gratitude rising in my heart, my mind, my very being. Knowing the truth taught by Meister Eckhart seven hundred years ago: “If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘thank you’ that would suffice.”  ~ Meister Eckhart

While I am an appreciative person, feeding my faith with a steady diet of gratitude, today I am especially brimming with thankfulness.

After praying and feeding the pets, I fussed over my two trays of bedding plants and perennials brought into the house a bit too late last night. They had endured being snowed on! I was remiss in noticing the rain had become frozen pellets so they came into the house instead of the cold garage. Thankfully my annuals are cold-tolerant pansies, snapdragons, and English ivy. The perennials are all spring plants too: Pasque-flower (Pulsatilla), English Cowslip (Primula veris), and Periwinkle (Vinca minor). After a warm night to thaw indoors they’re doing fine and are back outside. The inherent resilience of these little beauties brings me more reason to give thanks.

The morning dog walk was also an opportunity for thankfulness. My Nikki-girl is a delightful ‘rescue-dog’ who constantly warms my heart. I give thanks for adopting her. Her joyful enthusiasm for the ball I throw makes me laugh out loud. I am thankful to have an off-leash dog park to play in, only one block from our place.

Upon returning home I felt inspired to pull on my gloves and do some weeding. The rain had stopped for a while and I felt inspired. The moist soil would make it easy to pull little grass clumps or dandelion sprouts that have been daring up between the perennials. As I got to my task, a rhythm began: balance on stepping stones, brush back mulch, grasp weed base, twist and pull, toss to pile. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

I was appreciating all of it. The birds being animated all around me, flying overhead from tree to tree, singing as I worked. Disturbed worms stretching out fully as they slowly hurried to escape my ministrations to the garden bed. Discoveries of tiny perennial survivors of this Zone 3 garden, pressing their precious green leaves out of the ground. I just kept weeding and weeding, loving every minute of it.

Amidst this deep gratitude and peace, the words of seventeenth-century Brother Lawrence came to mind. I couldn’t remember the quote exactly but the essence was, I do not even pick up a straw from the ground but for the love of God. I felt like I was weeding that way: every movement was for the love of God.

When I came inside, I researched to find the correct quote from Brother Lawrence. In the end I found that one plus another by him that also resonates with me. There are more quotes here about gratitude to share today. I hope you enjoy.

May your May Day be joyous, and filled with reasons to say ‘thank you’.

“We can do little things for God; I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for the love of Him, and that done, if there is nothing else to call me, I prostrate myself in worship before Him, Who has given me grace to work; afterwards I rise happier than a king. It is enough for me to pick but a straw from the ground for the love of God.” ~ Brother Lawrence 

“Men invent means and methods of coming at God’s love, they learn rules and set up devices to remind them of that love, and it seems like a world of trouble to bring oneself into the consciousness of God’s presence. Yet it might be so simple. Is it not quicker and easier just to do our common business wholly for the love of him?” ~ Brother Lawrence

“The best things are nearest: breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of God just before you.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

“Great Spirit, I begin the month of May filled with gratitude for the increase in the light that brings forth life from my soul and from the earth. May my heart be fertile ground for the sprouting of your Godseed, that I may be of loving service to my family, my community, and all beings.” ~ Joan Borysenko (Pocketful of Miracles)

Fear is like a crimped garden hose

Discovering what it really means to become a blogger is an exciting endeavor. However I’m discovering, as a neophyte in this realm, I have some inner fears lurking. I want to offer something substantial. I want to provide thought-provoking material. And then fear surfaces:  But… but… what if I am not good enough… what if no one likes it… what if it is of no use… and what about… what if… !?

As I have learned to do with fear, I relax and breathe through it. Robert Frost wrote, “The best way out is always through.” That’s true with walking through forests, as well as in moving through situations that we find fearful. I choose to notice the tension that fear creates, take a deep breath in, and consciously relax with a deep exhalation. Watch tension subside. Repeat as required.

Fritz Perls taught us, “Fear is excitement without breath”. As someone who went through giving birth twice, I can personally attest to the tremendous power of breath in overcoming fear. Ask yourself, Am I really afraid, or just incredibly excited and forgetting to breathe through it?

An amazing lesson witnessed by all people who go through a birth is that it’s natural for humans to tense our muscles and stop breathing when we feel fear. We tighten up and hold our breath. Ancient triggers are at work. However, these triggers can and must be overcome. A woman birthing must recognize her natural reaction to fear and pain, and decide (remember) to consciously relax, breathe deeply, and be in her power. By being soft. Relaxed. It feels like going against everything the fear is screaming at us to do. However all humans can override this ancient wiring. Women have been using this natural relaxation birthing technique for millennia, and it still works today for any one who wishes to use it.

In a moment of fear or stress, notice the tightness in your body. Feel how your muscles have tightened and your breath has become shallow, or even held. We tend to hold our breath when we feel fear. Ancient programming. Perfectly natural. However let’s decide to rise above our ancient biological wiring and choose to relax. Take a deep breath and let the fear wash over you. Your eyes are clear and you can see the situation from a brighter viewpoint. Relaxation gives you strength.

Alan Cohen wrote that fear is like a crimp in a garden hose. We hold the flow of energy back, and feel blocked. But in an instant we can decide to open up, release our hold on that folded garden hose, and let the force of life flow through us.

Breathing deeply and filling our lungs oxygenates our blood and provides a physiologically calming effect. So let’s remember this when we are in fear, pain or stress: Deep breath in. Deep breath out. Relax the muscles. Feel the tension releasing.

This is worthy and important work. Studies have been proving comprehensively how damaging stress is to the body. Yet these studies tend to invoke fear and often fail to provide solutions. My humble suggestion: Remember to take a deep breath. Choose to consciously relax your muscles. These simple steps add joy and health to our lives.

I have been breathing through my fear of becoming a new blogger. I am opening that garden-hose crimp. I choose to breathe through any fears of inadequacy or imperfection. Through breathing and relaxing I can return to my Truth: Just be me. Write the things I want to share, from a place of honesty and integrity and love. And from this place of calm fearlessness I know that this blog is meant to be. It is a story of me. To you. Namaste.

Shining From The Inside Out

Today the weather is cool and grey. Spring is pressing a heavy white sky down with imminent rain that just keeps waiting. I wish it would fall. My mood always perks up when the spring showers start. Maybe I’m like a plant that way. When the rain starts I shall take my dog for a walk. Let us both feel the rain in our hair.

Today my heart is brimming with hope. The weather outside is cool and grey and I am filled with ideas. And hope. This is a great day to work from home with design and writing, and to take a wee sidetrack seeking out other positive thinkers. I am finding them everywhere I look! Wonderfully amazing websites and blogs filled with inspirational ideas and beautiful images. I want to fill my site with links to these wonderful people sharing their hearts and their souls. This is a great year. I can feel it. Things are improving everywhere I look.

I know I am an optimist. I do see the glass half full. I know the sun is always shining, even when I cannot see it behind the clouds.

I choose to live this way because without hope, without looking for the bright and the good, well I’d hardly be able to get out of bed. And while I still have tough times, my morning gratitude ritual has helped immensely. Even if I can hardly say more, I can always say: Thank you God, for this day. As Dr. Wayne Dyer writes of, I do not want to merely cope. I want to thrive. I choose to shine!

SHINE 

Life is a wondrous miraculous gift,

Remembering this gives my spirits a lift;

Raising me out of my worldly mind,

Helping me feel peaceful and kind;

I let go of what is cruel and untrue,

So my inner beauty may now shine through;

Claiming my birthright to be truly free,

Ignites within me a divine energy;

I now receive all the gifts that are mine,

The reason I’m here is to let myself shine!

As I let my love for life be unfurled,

I’m taking action towards healing the world.

Gina and Professions for PEACE © 2000-2012

Spring Showers

Municipal waterworks departments can become quickly inundated after heavy rains when water rushes off yards into gutters and drains. Then their systems can become so pressured that a portion of overflow water is released into rivers without proper treatment.

Even a small garden of tidy perennials positioned between house and street can help slow that potential runoff. My own garden is rather ‘natural’ which is a nice way of admitting that it’s rather wild, and that’s the way I like it. Filled with tough plants that resist rabbit grazing, can handle the wild weather we get here, and generally thrive on neglect. They’re my favorites, my carefully selected zone-hardy drought-tolerant rabbit-resistant plants. They make me feel like a better gardener because they just grow and grow and grow. Bless their happy little leaves!
.

RAINY REMEMBRANCE

There is something special about spring showers,

When the rain goes on and on for hours,

Releasing with it Earth’s growing powers,

Soon to be shown in abundant flowers!

When, with joy, I feel rain on my face,

And, if hatless, through my hair it will trace,

Refreshing my spirit so I pick up my pace,

And remember with gratitude my love for this place!
.
© Professions for Peace

Animals, Trust and Respect

I woke just now from a fitful sleep like so often lately, but this time it was a nice dream. I was riding a massive brown horse, walking slowly as I patted his neck and watched the ears. Taking my time to know this gentle giant, and he was granting me respect.

In my dream, riding this horse, all my worries vanished. My senses were filled with the steady squeak of saddle leathers, rhythm of hoof-beats, flicker of ears, wave of mane and smell of horse. I love the smell of horses, and I woke up from this short but vivid dream with that light aroma still in my senses. I felt happy. How incredibly therapeutic, even if only enjoyed while sleeping.

I have been lucky throughout my life to be gifted with animals, something that comes easily due to my inherent respect for them. It’s as if animals notice this about me and are relieved to interact with a human who values their intelligence.

One of the many aspects of horse-care I’ve always adored is grooming. I believe in its value as a training aid, even if only for building trust. I find that horses enjoy human hands along their necks, chests and saddle-areas as much as we enjoy offering the attention. I choose to stroke with my hands and use brushes that are comfortable to horses. No unforgiving metal brushes for me. Regular grooming teaches horses to be at ease with hands all over them. Building a memory of safety allows a horse to remain calm around those frequently alarming things like flapping bags, bicycles, honking horns and banging sounds. A quality riding horse is one that feels secure and trustful. It trusts its environment and its humans. These invaluable horses are unflappable and unafraid of surprises.

I interact with all animals this way, and my cat of a dozen years is calm, friendly and playful. One summer day a few years ago I was chatting casually with my neighbours over the fence as I hose-watered my garden. Suddenly the wife voiced how she was astounded that my cat was just laying in the sun as I watered around it. Myself, I was not surprised. My cat has no fear since she has never been abused. I wouldn’t dream of sprinkling water on my cat.

When a person decides to use force or cruel behavior with an animal, they lose its trust and respect. Unfortunately, most abused animals learn to mistrust all humans. Anyone who has met and worked with a head-shy horse knows how entrenched those old hurts are. Anyone who has adopted an abused rescue dog knows how some of those emotional scars never heal.

My beloved rescue dog has been my constant companion for years, but her first years of life in an abusive environment permanently affected her. In her past she learned that humans are unpredictable and dangerous. Her life with me is the opposite of that tragic past but the damage is done. She does lavish me with the loyalty of her constantly loving presence, but during those moments in our family life with loud boisterous laughter or unexpected movements, she still lowers her head and looks worried. Trust is fragile and once damaged is often lost forever.

Respect and trust are too precious to risk damaging with poor behavior. Just as in our personal relationships, once these hard-earned qualities of trust and respect are betrayed they are practically impossible to regain.

© March 2009 ~ Gina’s Professions

Just A Smile

Simple kindness is something I genuinely enjoy offering to others, and welcome it warmly. It is more magical and healing than we often admit. Even just a smile or kind word cause ripples out into the world, helping more than we know.

I will always remember a moment that happened one morning about 12 years ago as I faced another day at a horrible job. I trudged along, head down, my smile gone. As a financially strapped single mom, all I could do was pray every morning for the strength to endure and send out resumes every evening, like messages in a bottle thrown into the sea.

Nature is always my solace, so in the concrete jungle I look for trees and birds as I walk. The sidewalk was sloping down as it headed under the railway and I looked up to see if pigeons might be roosting and quietly cooing to each other in the rafters. As I wearily raised my head I saw a woman looking at me with a smile of pure sweetness. Bright teeth flashing at me in that dark depressing morning. Instinctively a smile slowly grew on my face to return the favor but she was already gone. Passed swiftly by me, leaving a lingering moment of kindness like a ray of sunshine piercing the gray. I felt touched, noticed by another person amongst all the pedestrian traffic, trudging along. She was like an angel, to know how much I needed that smile, but didn’t even know it myself. My spirits immediately lifted and I remembered the Truth: this hardship was temporary and I would get a better job.

The generous kindness of a stranger, giving me one of her smiles when mine were all gone, changed my world that day and will be remembered forever.